Nonprofit grants West Haven girl battling cancer wish to see father while on active duty

News 8 Exclusive

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A little girl from West Haven, who is battling cancer, had one wish last month: to see her father for the holidays.​

Just sitting up and smiling did not seem possible for Samyra Mills two years ago.​ ​Back in July of 2018, she was having headaches and losing rapid weight.

The family found out Samyra had a tumor lodged in the back of her brain. The 8-year-old went into surgery right away.​

“After the surgery, she was alert. After the next day, she was alert and then she lost everything,” said Savonda Seaforth, Samyra’s mom. “She wasn’t able to walk or talk. She couldn’t respond. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t move her toes.”

Samyra had another surgery, radiation, then chemotherapy.

“She started talking November of 2018,” Seaforth said. “The day before Thanksgiving and made a great speech; everyone cried. It was wonderful.”

But one very important person wasn’t there: her dad, and it’s for one very good reason.​

“He’s in the Army,” Samyra explains. Due to his service at Fort Riley in Kansas, the family hasn’t had a holiday together in three years.​ “I just miss him.”

That changed this year.​ The nonprofit LivFree heard her story.​ Veteran Daniel Vieira started it three years ago after his toddler survived leukemia.

Their mission is to fight cancer with smiles. They’ve helped nearly 200 families so far.​

Samyra Mills, mom Savonda Seaforth, and Dan Vieira of LivFree visit the News 8 Studios in New Haven to speak with News 8’s Stephanie Simoni.

“You know there’s a lot of organizations and there’s a lot of great organizations out there that focus on the child, but we realized as a family going through it that our whole family was affected,” Dan Vieira of LivFree in Shelton.


So they arranged for a limo service to pick them up​ and paid for the flight to make the meeting happen.​

“I was so happy. I had tears of joy in my eyes. and dad had them too,” Samyra said. ​

Their week together over Christmas was perfect.​ So perfect, saying goodbye was tough.​

“It was hard when we had to go home because I was crying a lot,” Seaforth said.

“No matter how hard things are there’s always something worse out there,” Seaforth said. “You can handle anything. Just have a little bit of faith. That’s all it is.”

For more information about LivFree head can be found online.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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