Dad's heartbreaking Internet plea spurs strangers - CBS46 News

Dad's heartbreaking Internet plea spurs strangers

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Steffel Family). This undated photo provided by Nathan and Emily Steffel shows their infant daughter, Sonya. (AP Photo/Steffel Family). This undated photo provided by Nathan and Emily Steffel shows their infant daughter, Sonya.
  • NationalMore>>

  • Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

    Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:50 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:50:11 GMT
    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.More >
    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.More >
  • Trial reveals governor's wife had 'crush' on CEO

    Trial reveals governor's wife had 'crush' on CEO

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:49 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:49:21 GMT
    A federal prosecutor says the government will prove Virginia's former governor and his wife illegally lined their pockets with gifts from a businessman who sought their influence to promote his company.More >
    An attorney for the wife of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says during the couple's corruption trial that their marriage was broken and the former first lady developed a crush on a businessman who gave the...More >
  • Clean air rules assailed as too much, too little

    Clean air rules assailed as too much, too little

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 12:42 PM EDT2014-07-29 16:42:42 GMT
    Hundreds of people will tell the Environmental Protection Agency what they think of proposed rules to cut pollution from power plants during public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday in Denver.More >
    Hundreds of people across the country are telling the Environmental Protection Agency its new rules for power-plant pollution either go too far or not far enough.More >
By JOHN SEEWER
Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - 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."

Jillian Johnston, an illustrator from Mountain View, California, said she felt pulled to create her own image of Sophia. She posted it online and then woke up the next morning to a flood of compliments and several requests from other parents who lost their children in similar situations.

"I have at least a dozen more babies to paint," she said. "There are so many beautiful babies. It's heartbreaking."

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."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Powered by WorldNow
CBS Atlanta
Powered by WorldNow
All content © 2000-2014 WorldNow and WGCL-TV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.