(SL)- Before you start complaining about what you don’t have or what you wish you had or what kind of day you’re having think about 8-year old Safyre Terry. The little girl who lost her father and three siblings in an arson fire 2 years ago. Safyre suffered burns to 75% of her body which left her disfigured and without a hand and a foot, but she won’t complain.
When she was asked by her aunt Liz Dolder what she wanted for Christmas her only wish was to fill her card tree. Dolder posted the request on FB and it went viral. Here Safyre thought she would only received about 20 cards and now…a million plus later she’s overjoyed. Terry even received a card from the First Family of The United States and a whole lot more including a trip to Disney World, thousands of gifts, and more than $338,000 in donations.
Her story is one indeed of bravery and perseverance. In a video posted Tuesday on a Facebook page chronicling her long recovery Safyre triumphantly lifts a cup with a 3D-printed prosthetic hand made for her by students at the University at Albany. Dolder asks, “Who can do it?” and Safyre shouts, “I can!”
It’s a frequent call and response between Dolder and her niece, who shows no trace of self-consciousness about her scars and tracheal tube as she greets well-wishers at holiday events organized by police and motorcycle clubs in her honor.
Dolder, a stay-at-home mom who cares for Safyre, as well as her own 8-year-old twins, said more than a million cards and thousands of packages have arrived at the family’s home on a rural road 15 miles west of Albany.
The Times Union covered the story for awhile. It appears that baby girl was injured in a fire that was allegedly set by Edward Leon who was upset with Safyre’s father David Terry ( who died trying to save his children from the blaze) because Terry was dating his ex-girlfriend who didn’t help matters when she admitted that she was sleeping after taking LSD the night of the fire.
The flames were started at 4 am in the morning and Leon acknowledged driving to Terry’s residence a couple hours before dawn on the morning of the blaze, because, he said, he wanted to confront Terry, who had an ongoing relationship with Leon’s ex-girlfriend, Brianne Frolke.
“I figured I’d go down on my way to work; most people aren’t up at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning,” Leon said. “I’d go find a house number to maybe knock on a door.”
Police said the fire began around 4 a.m. and that it was started with gasoline.
“I was in Schenectady … to try to meet this guy and confront him face to face,” Leon said. “Now they’re at the point of trying to pin something on somebody. … I haven’t hid for one minute from it and I ain’t going to now. I got five kids and four grandkids to take care of; they’re what it’s about to me.”
Leon said he initially told the detectives he wasn’t near Schenectady that night.
Leon later changed his story and said he was upset that Frolke and Terry were together. He said he wanted Terry to know he and Frolke were still involved, although estranged. On the ring finger of Leon’s left hand is a tattoo resembling a ring that bears Frolke’s initials and a tiny red heart.
“The tattoo was really the idea of ‘I’m going to be all about you,'” Leon said. “I ain’t going to be cheating on you or none of that.”
Leon confirmed that in the days leading up to the fire, he used an anonymous TracFone to send Terry messages that he described as “probably a little bit” threatening and carrying the anonymous signature, “The Undertaker.”
“I tried to talk to him on Facebook and I spoke to him over the phone, I think once,” Leon said. “I was trying to get a hold of him to confront him face-to-face in regards to him and Bri. I’m one to deal with my hands. I’d just as soon punch (someone) in the face. I didn’t want to do something behind somebody’s back or crap like that.”
Initially, Leon said, his use of the anonymous telephone was to find Terry’s address.
“I got a number out of Brianne’s phone that was labeled ‘Dave Terry,'” Leon said. “That was the number I used after I got the TracFone, after I figure out who he was, where he was, so I could meet this guy face to face.”
He’s facing up to 10 years in prison for perjury when he’s sentenced in March. But he’s not being tried for the arson. “You’d have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to see all the evidence that points to him,” Safyre’s aunt says. “Give me a break. It’s clear as day.”