Last Wednesday I was reading a blog update from Love That Max and she linked to another blog update about a little boy named Gavin. She wanted us to all rally around this family and give them love and support.
This was Gavin and his mom, Kate, last Tuesday.
I “liked” Kate’s facebook page, Chasing Rainbows, and made my way over to her blog to read about her family. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. They had been through so, so much. Much more than any family should ever have to endure. I felt instantly angry because it just wasn’t fair that they had already been through so much, and now Gavin was slipping away.
When I liked her facebook page, there was a little over 400 likes. Today there are 13,500+ likes. Love, support and prayers are pouring in for the Leong family from all over the world. So many parents of children with special needs kiddos said they saw Gavin in their little boy or little girl. And it’s true, I see Gavin in Emmett. The strength and determination our kids have surpasses all comprehension. The amount of love and support we get from friends, family and strangers is one of the most amazing things I’ve had the privilege to experience. These kids change lives and when one’s life is taken away much too early, and so suddenly, the special needs community grieves as one collective whole.
I have been thinking about this family non stop for a week and sobbing every day. Gavin was the last thing on my mind before I went to bed and the first thing on it when I’d wake up. Every morning I would hope for an update that he would suddenly be better.
But yesterday, on his mother’s birthday, he was officially pronounced dead. People had been asking where they could send flowers and donations, but Kate posted this:
Ed and I will be announcing our choices for “in lieu of flowers” donations to honor Gavin in a few days, but today is my birthday and this is all about me. I’ve come up with a special, totally FREE way to honor my sweet son who could inspire the most profound emotion without ever saying a word. I’m asking you to help someone… document it with words and or a photo… and place it on the Chasing Rainbows Facebook Page. Then be sure to check the page often to get inspired by the outpouring of love. Here are some great ideas for you… Find a special needs classroom in your community. These are usually low funded and always looking for donations. Perhaps you have toys your kids don’t play with anymore that could be used in the classroom or during therapy. Random crayons that are laying around. I know we always needed rug gripper to place under Gavin’s behind when he sat – that’s a good need. Do you know a special needs Mom in your neighborhood? Church? School? Tell her you’d like to make dinner for her family. What night would work? Then tell her the only requirement is they have to give a “cheers toast” to Gavin during dinner. Help someone struggling to unload groceries into their car in the rain. Donate clothes to a women’s shelter. Check with your local children’s hospital for volunteer opportunities – even if it’s just for two hours of your life. Save all of your magazines and bring a big stash to your local hospital. You have no idea how helpful that is to parents who spend days, weeks or months (as I did when Gavin was a baby) sitting in their child’s hospital room. These are just some ideas… be creative! And think of Gavin when you do it. Share his story with the person you are blessing. Tell them that Gavin Leong changed the world with little acts of courage, determination and a sweet smile… without ever saying a word. And then ask them to pay it forward to honor his legacy. This would be the best birthday gift you could give me. There is no time frame – you could post something today or a year from now or five years from now. Thank you for helping me to honor my amazing little boy. And feel free to share this anywhere you want!
If you feel inspired to do some good (and who wouldn’t, really?) have at it! I haven’t decided what to do yet but when I do I will post it to her facebook page.
Kate has shown so much strength and grace through all of this. She and Ed are amazing parents and all I want at this point is to give them the biggest hug. I sent Kate a message on facebook and I hope my words offer her the smallest bit of comfort. If you’d like to know more about the Leong Family, here is her blog. Just have ten or so boxes of tissues handy.
Emmett will be turning 2 next month and I’ve been planning a SuperHero themed birthday party for him. Kate referred to Gavin as her SuperHero, too. I think Emmett’s birthday party can also serve as a tribute to all the SuperHeroes out there like Gavin. There are so very many.