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Dad's heartbreaking internet plea spurs strangers


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."

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."

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Kathi July 16 2014 at 6:03 PM

Not Republican...not Democrat...just people, offering love and support. Too bad it cannot always be this way. Prayers and hugs to Sophia's parents.

Flag Reply +52 rate up
3 replies
smwsurv July 16 2014 at 6:01 PM

This is the kind of news I long for on a daily basis. The good that the world does outweighs the ugly and we need these type of reminders that the world as a whole is filled with people that have good hearts. God bless this family and all of the wonderful people who helped them keep their precious ones memory alive.

Flag Reply +47 rate up
1 reply
ROSE smwsurv July 16 2014 at 9:14 PM

You said it just right...I used to tell my Aunt that the world can not go on this way. She told me there are too many good people praying to alleviate the evil in this world..I sure hope she was right. That was 20 years ago and it has only gotten worse. Now the thugs who worship the dead cop killer in Jersey City are sending out for other thugs to come in and kill all the cops. So many thugs and so few cops. How can they win. We can all pray for the police now.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Apple July 16 2014 at 5:51 PM

So very sorry for the loss of this young baby! What an amazing compassionate response from so many loving people, all of you Rock!!!!

Flag Reply +41 rate up
Dimples July 16 2014 at 6:02 PM

Now this is the kind of photo shop that no one will complain about. I am so emotional right now and so happy that people from every where came to the aid of this family who's beautiful, precious baby girl now flies amongst the angels.

Flag Reply +36 rate up
BAMoilan July 16 2014 at 6:02 PM

"A picture is worth a thousand words." What a wonderful response.

Flag Reply +33 rate up
dmaxmama July 16 2014 at 5:59 PM

How kind of good people! Sometimes technology really is used for a good purpose. My heart goes out to this family.

Flag Reply +32 rate up
Donna July 16 2014 at 6:05 PM

Beautiful little one, may her family find peace in their hearts.

Flag Reply +26 rate up
coopski1 July 16 2014 at 5:58 PM

These wonderful parents ... gave birth to an angel. She was so good .. she was fast-tracked to heaven where she will see them again someday. She's up there looking out for her beautiful parents.

Flag Reply +20 rate up
Janice July 16 2014 at 5:51 PM

There r good people out there. May God Bless and Keep the parents of an
Angel. God must have needed her in heaven than on earth. He will take the best of care of her.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
1 reply
maddaddyjoe Janice July 16 2014 at 7:57 PM

You are so rite. GOD must have needed her in Heaven

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ram4131 July 16 2014 at 6:08 PM

It's sad that stories that make us smile are so few and far between.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
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