HOLMBERG: ‘Miracle Baby’ Harper’s short life spoke volumes about courage

Posted at 11:37 PM, Oct 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-13 00:49:56-04

POWHATAN, Va. (WTVR) - What was it about baby Harper Ann Stanfield of Richmond that captured the hearts of millions around the world?

“Her eyes, her soulful eyes,” said Harper’s grandmother, Carol Adkins, a frequent visitor to VCU Medical Center, where this girl spent her whole life. “Her strength, just beaming out of her. I mean, the first time I met her there was just something about her.”

Somehow,  this little girl who lived just 48 days was able to beam that strength to four million people who followed her miraculous fight on Facebook site. The family was bathed in prayers and love from around the world. [BONUS: Parents of ‘Miracle Baby’ Harper speak about gift she left behind]

Friday evening, more than 100 people, more than a few of them strangers, came to Powhatan Community Church for Harper Ann’s memorial service.

She was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a rare condition that jammed her stomach, spleen and intestines in her chest, crowding her lungs

She survived four surgeries. Her fight ended last Sunday.

The memorial service was also her daddy’s birthday. William Stanfield said her life was the greatest gift of his.

There was hardly a dry eye in the house as we watched her photos and videos, the story of a little engine that could.

Dr. Brian C. Hughes, the church’s pastor, said Harper Ann’s life, for many, presented an uncomfortable contrast of how we might give up or not give our best effort in adversity.

The girl’s fighting spirit shined through in those eyes.

And for many others, this little girl reminded us how blessed are those with healthy children, while silently telling families with sick children – or those who have buried them – that they are not alone.

“She changed millions of lives,” her father said. “I will be forever thankful for being able to be a father.”

He said his daughter is strongest person he has ever met. He said being Harper Ann’s father made him 10 times the man he was before.