Dad’s heartbreaking Internet plea spurs outpouring

  • Associated Press July 16, 2014
This undated photo provided by Nathan and Emily Steffel shows their infant daughter, Sophia. Days after Sophia died in a Cincinnati hospital from complications of a liver tumor, Nathan Steffel asked users on Reddit if someone could alter the hospital photo to remove the tubes attached on her face and wrists. So far, they received thousands of messages expressing support and hundreds of photos. - Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio – Just days after his infant daughter’s death, Nathen Steffel asked strangers on the Internet for only one thing: He and his wife wanted a photo of their daughter without the breathing tubes and tape that masked her little face.

The response has been overwhelming.

Hundreds of photos, sketches and paintings have poured into the family’s northwestern Ohio home and their inbox.

“I’m getting messages in languages from all over the world,” Steffel said Wednesday. “It’s more than I can count.”

His daughter, Sophia, died last Thursday at a Cincinnati hospital from complications of a tumor in her liver, six weeks after she was born in Columbus. She was awaiting a transplant when she died.

Her father posted a message on Reddit asking if anyone could use their photo of Sophia in the hospital and remove the tubes attached to her face and wrist.

“Since she was in the hospital her whole life, we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes,” he wrote.

“It started because I just wanted one picture,” said Steffel, who lives in the village of Kalida with his wife, Emily, and their two sons.

He initially was not sure about posting the request online because he was worried someone might respond rudely. “I guess the best has outweighed the negative,” he said.

So far, they have received thousands of messages expressing support and hundreds of photos.

Someone else is sending a woven blanket with Sophia’s picture.

David Valdez, who has been painting portraits for several years, made a digital painting of Sophia within a few hours of seeing her father’s message.

“I was having a bad day when I saw this guy asking for a photo. I just started painting,” said Valdez, a college student from New Braunfels, Texas. “It brought me some sort of sense of relief to help someone out.”

Steffel said his family now has more memories of their daughter than they could have imagined, he said.

“It’s kept me and my wife occupied reading all these messages,” Steffel said. “Keeping our minds off things.”


blog comments powered by Disqus

HIV-positive doctor says his dog saved his life

Weather, flights aid post-Thanksgiving travel efforts

Hull-aballoo: New Navy destroyer’s seaworthiness questioned

In DC, public housing tenants forced out, then homes flipped

Carson after tour: Refugees don’t want to come to U.S.

Sanders wants ‘single-payer’ plan

Carolina to collect web sales taxes

Protect yourself online during the holidays

Trump brags about his lead

Online shopping reduces Black Friday turnout