He once beat up opponents in the ring just for the fun of it, but today Steven Sharp’s life is radically different, as he tends to the every need of his severely handicapped daughter. Now the former wrestler has an emotional — and heartwarming — update to his already touching story.
Sharp, you may remember, serves as his daughter’s full-time caretaker, tending from dusk to dawn to seven-year-old Samantha’s every need. He clothes her, bathes her and feeds her. Just weeks after TheBlaze told Sharp’s amazing story, the courageous father’s goal of raising $10,000 to produce a documentary about his daughter’s life will now become a reality thanks to an outpouring of support.
As of Tuesday, the father’s Indiegogo campaign has brought in well over $16,000 (he can make a lower-budget version of the film for $10,000, but was initially aiming to raise $30,000 for a higher-end production team).
His planned film, “Amazing Grace and Dad,” will detail the family’s tragic, yet uplifting, story, with a focus on Samantha, who has never spoken, walked or talked, and the ways in which she has touched her parents’ lives. During the birthing process, the young girl suffered from a condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which resulted, according to Sharp, from medical errors.
In an interview with TheBlaze last month, the father explained that he hopes the film will educate people about the value that special needs children bring to families. Since our initial story on Aug. 7, Sharp said that the response he’s received has been “absolutely unreal.”
“To have our project go from struggling to successful, literally overnight was a blessing,” he said in an e-mail interview late last week. “I sat with Sam, reading comments to her and emails wishing us well on our project and could feel the happiness in her.”
Sharp is obviously overjoyed at reaching his financial goals.
“I don’t think there is one word that can describe it. I’ve gone from trying to figure out how to use shoestrings for a budget to having an actual budget,” he added. “Trying to talk to people far more knowledgeable than me using hypotheticals to actually having a budget and being able to talk seriously is everything.”
Currently, Sharp is shooting footage about four hours per day to showcase Samantha’s life and the extensive efforts he takes to care for her. At the same time, he is actively seeking out college-aged film students and others who might be able to help bring the project to fruition.
Considering that his daughter could be running out of time, Sharp has repeatedly told TheBlaze that he’d hoping to create the documentary in an effort to give Samantha the legacy she deserves.
“The only way I know how to do that is to make a documentary about her life and how she overcomes so much adversity and teaches how to overcome adversity, without ever saying a word,” he wrote in the film project’s description. “Doing this is the least I can do for a little girl who has done so much for me.”
TheBlaze asked if Sharp, considering the media attention given his story, feels like he’s accomplished a portion of his goal of building a legacy for Samantha. Yes, he says, and cites his website crashing due to intense interest. He’s also has received 15,239 e-mails offering him well-wishes — and says that nearly one million people “liked” a photo of him and his daughter on Facebook.
“If the fundraising and documentary was never part of this, there has to be close to a million people who have liked the story in one way or another. That’s a million people who Sam’s story has impacted in some way,” Sharp noted. “To me that means everything … her legacy has been cemented.”
Last month, TheBlaze asked what a typical day looks like and the Sharp residence and the father was candid.
“A typical day starts around 5:30 — I get up, [Samantha] has five medications that she has to have. I go into Sam’s room, I have to change her,” he said. “Sometimes when my back is killing me, my wife has to help me with that.”
After he brushes her hair and cares for her, Sharp brings his daughter into the living room and puts on cartoons. While she doesn’t speak, he said that she responds to some shows more than others. His wife, Carlene, works as a teacher at Fort Bragg Army base in N.C.
Sharp credits Samantha with profoundly changing his life and with teaching him valuable lessons, despite her never saying one word.
“She has taught me with all of my aches and pains — she has taught me that not one of them compares to what she goes through without ever saying a word,” he said. “The kid has inspired me. The kid — without ever saying anything to me she — basically opened the door to Jesus Christ” (read the entire story here).
While encouraged by the positive response to his story, Sharp was also disappointed by some comments he received claiming that he and his wife are somehow cruel by keeping Samantha alive.
The father told TheBlaze that these critics fail to understand that nearly every doctor (they’ve seen around 40 over the course of the past seven years) who has interacted with Samantha has told the family to treat Samantha as though she understands every word they say to her. Sharp also told TheBlaze that his daughter shows emotion, something else he believes these critics simply don’t understand.
We will continue to follow this fascinating story, as the brave father prepares to bring his family’s life to film.