Lighthouse Now: Cards pour in from around the world for Hailey Rodenhiser

By December 18, 2016The Holidays

In an age when Christmas wishes are increasingly digitized, nine-year-old Hailey Rodenhiser is breathing new life into the tradition of Christmas cards by post. A Facebook message posted November 24 by Hailey’s mother Juanita asked friends and family to send Christmas cards to cheer up her daughter, who is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.

The post went viral and cards and presents started pouring into her Dayspring home from around the world, with media in this country and beyond picking up on Hailey’s story.

Her father Leonard said that Hailey was feeling down after experiencing liver problems due to her treatments. “She had a good spring and summer, but then in September she only got to go to school for one day,” he said. So his wife posted the call for cards, “because she loves getting mail.”

“It went crazy after a bit,” said Hailey.

“The 7th or the 8th of December, that’s when it went nuts,” added Leonard. “Someone caught wind of it on CTV in Toronto, and they called Juanita and put a piece on their website and Facebook page. Then ABC in New York, they got wind of it. CNN and The Huffington Post. It’s just gone crazy.”

He reports there have been “tens of thousands” of hits on the CNN web story alone, with comments from Ireland, Germany, Australia and Africa.

Leonard says his daughter’s story has also been picked up by a Chinese newspaper in Vancouver, a Latin TV station in California, a Norwegian newspaper and the Sun newspapers in England and Scotland.

Hailey very soon had 66 cards, and once the message was out there more poured in. “This is it, for one day,” said Leonard, giving a sweeping gesture to the table in the family’s kitchen where piles of letters are neatly stacked.

“All of this is for me,” said Hailey, hugging her stuffed dog Marley that she received from a sporting goods store in Vermont.

Hailey has opened a couple other stuffed toys, but was waiting until she got back from the hospital in Halifax where she’s undergoing another round of chemotherapy at the end of the week before delving into the envelopes and packages on the table.

Hailey takes intravenous chemotherapy once a month, spinal chemo once every three months and oral chemo every day. She’s expected to finish her treatments next September, “barring anything going wrong,” said her father.

Hailey is no stranger to publicity. She was the ambassador for the Relay for Life this year and co-marshal for the Christmas on the LaHave parade. On her eighth birthday she raised more than $2,000 for the cancer cause, asking for donations rather than presents, and her drawings sell for $1,000 and up.

Leonard is anticipating many more items in the mail. “Oh yeah, this is just the tip of the ice burg,” he said, noting that now the post is being delivered right to the door since it no longer fits in their mailbox.

Hailey says she’d like enough cards that she can jump into them like a pile of leaves. Judging by the volume that’s already arrived, the nine-year-old may get her wish.


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