Fact Check

Christmas Cards for Nathan Elfrink

Christmas cards are requested for Nathan Elfrink, a 7-year-old boy with terminal cancer?

Published Dec 13, 2009


Claim:   Christmas cards are requested for Nathan Elfrink, a 7-year-old boy with terminal cancer.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2009]

Please Help. Nathan Elfrink, a 7 year old from West Jefferson, Ohio, is losing his battle with brain cancer. This will likely be Nathan's last Christmas and he has one wish — to collect one million Christmas cards. Let see how many Millions we can give him!

Nathan Elfrink,
2415 Taylor Blair Rd,
West Jefferson, OH

Hey, everybody. I just got a call from my mom passing along some sad news. A boy from my hometown is losing his battle with cancer, and is beginning to take a turn for the worse. His name is Nate Elfrink, and he is 7 1/2 years old. He has had somewhere around 17 surgeries during his battle with cancer, so he's got to be a tough little guy. This Christmas, he told his mom that all he really wants is to get a million Christmas cards. Now, although a million Christmas cards might be a bit unattainable, there's every reason to try to give this kid his only Christmas wish for what is very likely to be his last Christmas. If any of you could spare the 44 cents for a stamp plus a card just wishing him a Merry Christmas and a prayer, it would mean more to him than I can say. And please make sure to invite anybody you think might be willing to participate.

Nathan Elfrink


Origins:   This Internet-circulated appeal for Christmas cards for a child stricken with cancer began its online life in December 2009.

Nathan Elfrink was a 7-year-old boy who lives in West Jefferson, Ohio. He was first diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was less than two years old and battled the illness through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. He endured three surgeries, dozens of radiation treatments, and a stem cell treatment.

According to December 2009 news accounts, Nathan's tumor had returned, and that Christmas was expected to be his last:

The first two surgery attempts, in 2004 and 2006, were not able to completely remove all of the tumor. Last September, St. Jude pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Frederick Boop found that the tumor had moved enough away from Nate's brain stem to completely remove the tumor for the first time. However, a year later a test revealed that the tumor has returned.


told Nathan Elfrink's parents that this Christmas would be his last.

"The side effects have started," said Dode McVey, the child's mother. "The headaches, the vomiting, he's tired. That is the beginning."

"He was to start another experimental drug, but a MRI showed his tumor is very large and fast growing," said his mother Dode. "It is right up against his brain stem and is growing oblong. We have called children's hospice in because we don't know how much time he has."

When McVey logged on and posted the news on Nate's Web site, she left an address in case anyone wanted to send him a Christmas card.

"My goal was to put a smile on his face," McVey said. "It was never his wish. It was my wish."

Visitors to the Web site decided to start a campaign to send Nate one million Christmas cards.

However, as of 15 December 2009, Nathan's parents had requested that no more cards be sent to him:

Dode McVey and Tod Elfrink appreciate the thousands of Christmas cards people have sent to their son, Nate Elfrink, but the amount has become too much for the family to keep up with.

The family asks that instead of sending cards, people consider making donations in Nate's name that could help other children. They suggest supporting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or the hospice program at Nationwide Children's Hospital, both of which have provided Nate with care.

Nathan Elfrink passed away on 26 February 2010.

Additional information:  

  Christmas for a Little Kid   Christmas for a Little Kid   (Facebook)

Last updated:   26 February 2010


    Dye, Kevin.   "Riding Along with Santa."

    The Madison Press.   10 December 2009.

    Zurbrick, Kristy.   "Family Overwhelmed by Cards."

    Columbus Messenger.   15 December 2009.

    Chillicothe Gazette.   "Help Make Boy's Holiday with 'Lots of Christmas Cards.'"

    12 December 2009.

    WBNS-TV [Columbus, OH].  "Community Comes Together to Make Boy's Christmas Special."

    11 December 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.