Her letter to Santa asked for a mermaid doll with a bow for Christmas. She told Santa thanks and signed it “Love, Joie.”
On Dec. 17, Terry Hardin, a defense contract negotiator, was leaving work when he spotted the red balloon. It drifted down from the sky and after a few minutes finally landed in the parking lot. He saw something was attached and went over to check it out.
He read the note and saw the child’s name at the end. Reading it gave him chills. His mother, Joie Britt, had died in 2012. He wasn’t on good terms with her at the time of her death. He was angry with her when she died and he saw the child’s note as a message from heaven that this was a way he could set things right with his own mom.
His wife, Angel, set about the task of trying to identify the child so Terry could make her wish come true. She sent emails to anyone and everyone including news outlets like NBC 7 San Diego. She explained the story of the balloon and asked for help in finding the little girl. Mike Slater, a San Diego-area talk show host, asked his listeners for help and before long the letter’s author was identified.
Hardin got to meet Joie in her classroom on Dec. 19 where he presented her with a “Little Mermaid” doll complete with requested bow. Joie was bashful at first but as her classmates encouraged her, she opened the gift excitedly.
Hardin posed for a picture with Joie and her family. He has enjoyed the outpouring of support and kindness the episode has brought.