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Sanford community welcomes burn survivor home for holidays

Posted December 24, 2009

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— Eleven months after the fiery wreck that left him with burns on 80 percent of his body, Robert Leffer is headed home for Christmas.

Friends, local businesses and the fire departments across Lee County banded together Thursday to make the homecoming special for the entire Leffer family.

Burn survivor gets hero's welcome Burn survivor gets hero's welcome

Leffer, 49, was driving along Interstate 40 in Raleigh Jan. 26, when, authorities say, an SUV cut across multiple lanes of traffic spurring a chain reaction of collisions. Leffer's truck landed in the woods and burst into flames.

Since then, he has had five surgeries and nine-month stay at the Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill followed by daily physical and occupational therapy.

Leffer's wife, Amalia, and 2-year-old son Robert, have been spending most of their time in Chapel Hill to be near him as he recovers.

All three were greeted in Sanford Thursday afternoon by a parade of fire trucks lining the way to their home at 1714 Riddle Road.

When they walk in the door, they'll see the Christmas tree and gifts provided by volunteers and donations from the fire department, church groups and neighbors. A local furniture store pitched in to refurnish the Leffers' house, including a new, "big boy" bed for Robert, who has been sleeping in a crib.

"It means a lot. So much support, so many caring people," Robert Leffer said.

Dave Nance, chief of the Northwest Pocket Volunteer Fire Department, said the entire community came together to make sure the Leffers have a Christmas they will never forget.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone, to everyone, even people we don't know. They keep blessing us! Praise to the Lord," Amalia Leffer said.

"I wasn't supposed to be alive, but I made it," Robert Leffer said. "I'm with my family. I'm here to see my little boy grow up!"

Leffer will spend at least two days at home with his family before returning to Chapel Hill for the final round of surgery and physical therapy he needs to live at home permanently, burn center officials said.


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  • dnance Dec 25, 2009

    This welcoming is not about who caused it, as Mr. Leffer does not ask why it happened. He is a man of belief and understanding. A lot of people can learn a lot from him and his family. He is a true walking mirical. Merry Christmas Robert Leffer I am proud to be your friend and for being able to be apart of this wonderful event.

  • whyalltheproblems Dec 25, 2009

    what a wonderful story of hope and others coming together.

  • JAFOinWF Dec 25, 2009

    What the PC journalist who wrote this article fails to mention is the illegal who caused all of this. It is shoddy journalism or just good liberalism to neglect the origin of all this suffering. Orwellism is alive and well at Columbia and UNC schools of journalism.

  • lynderville Dec 24, 2009

    Welcome home Robert! You are truly an inspiration!

  • IMHO05 Dec 24, 2009

    God bless this family and all who have helped them!

  • liskm Dec 24, 2009

    High Five Robert! I didn't meet you back in March, but I did meet your lovely wife, while a relative of mine was at the Burn Center also. That is one amazing team of caregivers there!
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and another New Year. Best to you in your continued recovery!

  • kbo80 Dec 24, 2009

    I love to see stories like this. This community really came together for this family. I wish them all the best.

  • christinebbd Dec 24, 2009

    I want to know what happened to the illegal who caused this terrible accident. It seems the angry outcry of the public was squelched from the beginning.

  • nandud Dec 24, 2009

    YourMileageMayVary, I have tears in my eyes, too. Bless his heart, as well as the young man who saved him.

  • O I C Dec 24, 2009

    Merry Christmas to the Leffer family. I hope recovery continues to go well!!!