Lake Wind Advisory issued November 26 at 4:11AM EST expiring November 26 at 7:00PM EST in effect for: DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Pinellas, Polk, Sumter
It started as a simple request.
Wathena Sievert had noticed there was an art student that recently joined her husband's Native American Artifacts group on Facebook. She was hoping she could convince the stranger to draw a picture of a horse for her daughter. She knew it would make the little girl smile.
But what happened next, no one could have predicted.
"It's just mind-boggling," Sievert said.
Barker took his Facebook request and turned it into a Facebook phenomenon, creating a page called "Horses for Lex." In the about section, he asked folks to mail as many drawings as possible to a 7-year-old girl who could really use some reinforcement.
Lex not only has cerebral palsy, she's also battling heart and kidney problems along with a seizure disorder.
The page took off.
"It just blew up," Barker said with a chuckle. "I mean it has not stopped."
In less than one month, the Sievert family has received close to 250 pieces of mail from all over the globe.
"It went from drawings to photographs to stories to just words of encouragement," Barker said. "I think it restores your faith in humanity."
Sievert says every day Lex now wakes up wondering two things - how many likes she has on her Facebook page and whether or not she has mail.
"To see such an outpouring honestly changes my whole outlook on life," said Sievert.
So much so, the family packed up their bags and headed south. They arrived in Clearwater late Tuesday night to meet the man who brought back their daughter's smile.
"To me, Travis is Lex's hero," Sievert said.
But while meeting Barker was the main reason they came down, it wasn't everything. What Lex doesn't know yet is that Thursday morning she's going to be surprised with a real horse. A follower of the Facebook page came forward and donated a horse named Snickerdoodle.
And the good deeds don't stop there.
The charity "Hoofprints on the Heart" volunteered to transport the horse from Florida to Oklahoma for the family for free. In addition, a rescue group named Cowboys & Angels, located 15 minutes away from the family's home in Grove, Oklahoma, agreed to temporarily house Snickerdoodle until permanent arrangements can be made.
"This is a trip of a lifetime," Bill Sievert described.
To read more about Lex and how you can donate, or send her mail, go to Horses for Lex.