The letter echoes sentiments of countless people this month who have sent Christmas cards to 8-year-old arson survivor Sa’fyre Terry.
The writer tells of hearing Sa’fyre’s story and wanting to add her family’s card to Sa’fyre’s worldwide collection.
“You sound like such a brave girl, and you have inspired so many people around the world,” the letter reads, adding, “including Barack and me.”
'You sound like such a brave girl, and you have inspired so many people around the world, including Barack and me.' -- Letter to Sa'fyre from Michelle Obama
Yes, Schenectady’s Sa’fyre Terry now has a White House Christmas card and letter in her collection.
On Tuesday evening, Sa’fyre’s aunt and caretaker, Liz Dolder, posted to Sa’fyre’s Facebook page a picture of a smiling Sa’fyre holding the White House card.
“Safyre had the honor of getting a card from the President, First Lady and family,” Dolder wrote. “THANK YOU Mr. President and First Lady.”
Dolder then added a “heart” emoticon to the end.
The First Family’s card is one of thousands the Schenectady arson survivor has received since the call for cards first went out over Facebook nearly three weeks ago.
The total this week topped 660,000 cards or letters received and 16,000 packages, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
Online donations to Sa’fyre’s YouCaring.com page have hit $400,000, and likes on her Facebook page neared 140,000 this evening.
Dolder since has shared on Sa’fyre’s Facebook page several cards and messages Sa’fyre has received.
Dolder also shared photos of the stacks of mail trays filled with unopened cards. Volunteers are helping to process them all.
Dolder posted more than 100 pictures Monday evening showing cards of all kinds from all over the world wishing Sa’fyre a merry Christmas. The cards came from individuals, families and groups, and many came hand-drawn and signed by children.
Dolder shared one letter from a 9-year-old girl named Taisja in Thailand. Taisja learned of Sa’fyre from her father, who had seen Sa’fyre on the news.
The girl got her whole fourth-grade class to sign a card for Sa’fyre and sent a group picture of everyone.
“We want you to know that we are so very proud of your courage and want you to know that all of us love your strength, as it shows us that no obstacles get in the way of good people,” the type-written letter with the child’s signature reads.
Sa’fyre is the only child to survive the devastating May 2, 2013, fire at 438 Hulett St. in Schenectady. The fire claimed the life of her father, David Terry, and her three siblings: Layah, 3, Michael, 2, and Donavan Duell, 11 months. The arson remains unsolved.
Pulled from the home by firefighters, Sa’fyre suffered severe burns and underwent months of surgeries and hospitalization. She lost a hand shortly after the fire and since has lost a foot. There are more surgeries to come. She uses a prosthetic to walk. She lives in Rotterdam with her aunt and uncle.
The world learned her story earlier this month as a simple request to send her Christmas cards captured the hearts of many.
The White House card included a photo of the First Family — the entire family, including daughters Sasha and Malia and the First Dogs, Bo and Sunny. The Obamas even sent stand-alone photos of Bo and Sunny.
The First Lady’s letter to Sa’fyre also included encouragement for the future.
“With your kind heart and courageous spirit, we know there is no limit to what you can achieve in your life,” Michelle Obama’s letter read. “So always dream big dreams, and remember that we believe in you.”