Red balloons for Ryan. The phrase by itself conjures a picture of an innocent little boy holding a cluster of red balloons. But the events that led to the creation of the #RedBalloonsForRyan hashtag are tragically heartbreaking — a 3-year-old boy was struck and killed by a vehicle in front of his cousin's house. His mother's best friend has encouraged everyone to rally around the grieving family and has established a way for everyone to honor his memory with the color red, which he loved, and balloons, which he so thoroughly enjoyed.
Alyssa Circle (who blogs at Diary of an Addict) is the best friend of Ryan's mom, Jacqui Saldana (who blogs at Baby Boy Bakery), and she has implored that the online community not forget Ryan. The hashtag #RedBalloonsForRyan was created to help offer support for grieving mom Jacqui and dad Dan in hopes that they will be comforted, at least a little, by the outpouring of love from so many in their time of sorrow. Also, a GoFundMe account for the family has already shot above $50,000.
A quick look at Twitter shows how the hashtag has really taken off. Messages of support are raining in, and photos and images of the little boy are reaching so many people who don't even know the family but feel a portion of their grief. Circle has encouraged everyone to snag photos of the curly-haired little boy from Saldana's Instagram feed and repost them on their own personal Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and Twitter feeds.
"Post them that the memory of him can live on," she writes. "Post them to share in the love they had for their little boy. I know we can do this. I know we can pull together. Will you grab a picture from Jacqui’s Instagram feed and post it to yours? Will you share words of encouragement and tag #RedBalloonsforRyan? Also be sure to tag Jacqui, @babyboybakery, and Dan, @danno12."
Donations to the GoFundMe account have rolled in just as rapidly as photos of a bright-eyed child named Ryan Cruz Saldana have graced many, many social media account feeds. Artists are creating in Ryan's honor, and the Saldanas are undoubtedly feeling the love of so many, even during this dark time of their lives.
It's a nightmare no parent wants to experience. But feeling love from those who know you, and even from those who don't, can create a support system that bereaved parents can really use. #RedBalloonsforRyan.
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