Auburn shows the love for 7-year-old Haitian orphan after miracle rescue

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn area is showing its love for 7-year-old Claire, an orphan rescued by a Lake of the Pines family from earthquake-devastated Haiti. Claire, who has been adopted by Scott and Debbie Bryditzki, arrived Thursday in Auburn after flights that took her from Haiti to Florida to Atlanta to Sacramento. By early Friday, the Bryditzki family was already receiving toys from two stores – The Learning Express in Roseville and Alphabet Moon in Davis -- who had heard from TV station KMAX that there had been no time to buy any for Claire. And when the little girl and her new Auburn family arrived Friday at Target on Bell Road, she was besieged by well-wishers who had learned her name and knew her story from the barrage of media reports that had accompanied her miracle flight out of Haiti overnight Tuesday. Scott Bryditzki said the events of the last week have been overwhelming in many respects not just for Claire – but for his family, too. After the reception at the North Auburn Target, Claire stayed inside the family car with Scott while the rest of the family made other stops. Scott Bryditzki said he’s seeing the support being given locally for Claire repeated on a nationwide scale as Americans rally around the impoverished country now in even more peril because of the lack of food, water and medical aid. “The American people have been unbelievably generous – from funds to people saying they want to adopt,” Bryditzki said. Claire was recently adopted by the Bryditzkis but a passport and visa had yet to be obtained when the Jan. 12 quake hit Haiti hard, sending buildings like the Department of Immigration to the ground. Claire appeared to be stuck in the quake-torn nation but the Bryditzkis found a way to cut through bureaucratic red tape in what had already been an adoption process that started in February 2007. With a ride on Ted Turner’s private jet, the couple was able to fly in to Port-Au-Prince and bring Claire back. On Thursday, Debbie Bryditzki showed a reporter a small plastic bag that included the scant few items – including a well-worn Barbie doll – that Claire had brought with her. The girl’s story has touched people’s hearts. Maria Moreno, owner of Bowman Road’s Maria’s Mexican Tacos, will be opening her eatery for a taco fundraiser, with all proceeds going to New Hope in Haiti, the non-profit the Bryditzki family works with and that had helped bring them together with Claire. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. “I’m a poor person, not rich, and this was in my heart,” Moreno said. “I love Claire’s story and I think she’s going to come over here on Monday.”