Auburn’s rescued Miracle Kid arrives from Haiti

Billionaire Ted Turner’s jet, adoptive family’s persistence saves 7-year-old from quake disaster zone
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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SACRAMENTO – Claire, Auburn’s Miracle Kid, arrived from Haiti on Thursday to a joyfully tumultuous, emotional reception. A 7-year-old Haitian orphan had been adopted by an Auburn family weeks earlier. The Jan. 12 earthquake left them determined to get her safely out of Haiti. With a big assist from billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner’s private jet, Claire was whisked from the Port-Au-Prince airport overnight Tuesday. She landed with adoptive parents Scott and Debbie Bryditzki on Thursday morning at Sacramento International Airport after stops in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta. Claire smiled and waved as she rode the escalator down to a waiting throng of about 30 family members and supporters, some carrying signs and others holding presents for the girl. At the bottom of the escalator, Claire made a joyous dash for the open arms of her new sisters Danielle, 25, Ashley, 22, and brother Brandon, 15. A long journey was over – from uncertainty in a quake-torn land more than 4,000 miles away – to a new life in a new country. Claire had been given up by her mother with two other sisters because of financial hardship and cared for by the mayor of the Haitian community of Petionville. She was one of 40 taken in by Claire “Lydie” Parent, who is now a presidential candidate. When the quake struck, the Bryditzkis were in the final stages of securing a passport and visa for the girl named after her benefactor in Haiti. But with the Office of Immigration in ruins, the family began to look for alternative ways for government and private help to get Claire out. With an earthquake creating a disaster area and Claire so close to coming to Auburn and yet so far, a relative’s association with Ted Turner’s personal pilot led to the media mogul’s generous offer of his personal jet. Debbie Bryditzki said that with food and drinkable water nearly gone, the situation was desperate for Claire and millions of others. “Like a lot of mothers, you’ll do anything for your child,” she said. On Thursday, the Bryditzki children were waiting to take their new sister home to Lake of the Pines where a room has already been decorated for her, clothes had been laid out and a warm fire would soon be on. The adoption process had taken three years. The effort to rescue Claire – less than two days. Miracles sometimes take a little longer. “I was worried until she boarded the plane and was in my mother’s arms,” Ashley said. Claire, who speaks French and a little English, answered reporters’ questions in a tiny voice and few words, smiling all the while on perhaps the biggest day of her life. Ashley and Danielle wept tears of joy. The crowd let out a huge cheer when Claire had walked into sight and had given her many gifts as they clustered around the tiny girl in the bright white dress. She left the airport wearing a new necklace and a pink backpack carrying one of the many stuffed animals she received. New grandmother Peggy Buck of Auburn said that the family feels strongly for all the children still left in orphanages in Haiti. “But to rescue even one girl is wonderful,” Buck said. “All things just fell into place. It was miraculous.” Click here for more information on how you can help the Haitian earthquake relief efforts. How to help Haiti