CHARLESTON—Samarra Tracy learned at a very early age that it feels good to help other people.
The six-year-old devoted her past two birthdays to helping those less fortunate than herself, and her mom, Liezl de la Cruz-Tracy, said it was all Samarra’s idea.
It started when she was 5 and asked her parents for a puppy. They told her that someday soon they would adopt a dog from the animal shelter, which prompted lots of questions about what an animal shelter is and what they do.
Samarra felt sad for the animals that didn’t have anyone to love them, so she dedicated her fifth birthday to the Charleston Animal Shelter.
In talking about her pets, Samarra said she has a cat named Gremlin and a dog “who passed away … but her name was Maliboo.”
When asked if she wanted another pet, she glanced sideways at her mom and then leaned forward.
“I’d like to have a hamster,” she said, very seriously.
When her birthday rolled around this year, Oct. 7, her mom asked what type of celebration she wanted to have, and gave Samarra several suggestions.
The kindergartner, who attends Divine Redeemer School in Hanahan, said she wanted to have a party like last year, only this time, she wanted to choose a different charity.
“I gave all the presents to MUSC Children’s Hospital,” Samarra said. “They took care of me whenever I was a baby.”
Mrs. de la Cruz-Tracy explained that Samarra was born at St. Francis Hospital, but was seven weeks early, and during delivery she became stuck in the birth canal with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.
When she was delivered, the tiny newborn was not breathing on her own and doctors feared her clavicle was broken. The baby was whisked to the neonatal intensive care unit at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital, but mom, who had complications of her own, had to remain at St. Francis.
Samarra’s dad, Lance, was the first one to hold her, along with the nurses. Mrs. de la Cruz-Tracy said her husband gave Samarra her bottles and read to her until his wife was released almost two weeks after the birth. Samarra herself was only in the hospital about three days.
“She did a lot better than I did,” her mom said. “My mom calls her the miracle baby.”
Samarra was a regular at the children’s hospital for the first four years of her life as doctors monitored her development. Every time they gave Samarra a poor prognosis, she would turn around and prove them wrong, her mom said. Not only did she meet every milestone as she grew, but she talked early, was reading Dr. Seuss when she was only 5, and is doing Tae Kwon Do.
Her time at MUSC obviously made an impact in more ways than one.
“The children in the hospital didn’t have much toys and I had more toys than I thought I would,” Samarra said.
She received a lot of positive feedback from her stewardship, including a certificate from the hospital and a letter from one of the children.
“I don’t want her to miss out, but I do want to promote that spirit of giving,” Mrs. de la Cruz-Tracy said. “That’s a continual present — she’ll be happy with it for a long time.”