Online community rallies behind blogging mom after death of 3-year-old son

Published: Wednesday, May 7 2014 9:55 p.m. MDT

The online community is rallying behind a blogger after the death of her 3-year-old son Friday, May 2.

Alissa Circle, a close friend of Jacqui Saldana who authors Baby Boy Bakery, wrote on her blog May 5 about the tragedy.

Circle wrote that Saldana's son, Ryan, was playing at a family member's house when he ran to catch a Frisbee and was hit by a car and killed.

Circle shared her heartbreak and her struggle to understand the tragedy, but she also wrote about her "need to find God in the midst of tragedy." Circle then shared a small part of her interaction with Saldana since the accident.

"Today as I sat with Jacqui she gave me the honor of sharing her story. Not the whole story, but just a slice," Circle wrote on her blog, Diary of an Addict. "A cracked window into a story that she needed to be told because she needs, they need, our support. They need us to rally. They need us to pray, to share, to love, to remember … Ryan."

Circle encouraged her readers to not only pray for the family, but to also share Ryan's story as a way to remember the boy.

"… Join me in posting pictures of Ryan on your Facebook, your twitter, your Instagram feeds," she wrote. "Post them that the memory of him can live on. Post them to share in the love they had for their little boy. … I promised her that Ryan would not be forgotten, we can make sure that doesn’t happen. We can use our voices for good."

Although Circle didn't mention a specific hashtag, the title of the post, Red Balloons for Ryan, has evolved into the movement's identifier, and the community has indeed come together to support the Saldana family.

Stephanie Nielson, author of NieNie Dialogues and best-selling book "Heaven is Here," also shared a post on her blog about Ryan, pulling from her own experience with the online community.

"The peace I found at the hardest time of my life from strangers all over the world was incredible and helped my healing in huge strides. I want to do the same for the Saldana family," she wrote.

Nielson encouraged people to pray for the family and referenced how faith, even during trials, can strengthen people.

"I have learned that the bitter, almost unbearable pain can become sweet as you turn to your Father in Heaven and pled (sic) for His comfort," she wrote. "… I believe that this life is not the end. There is so much more, and I hope this is a comfort when we struggle with any kind of pain that life brings, especially and most importantly a death of a child."

Circle has also interacted with the online community through Instagram and posted about her appreciation for the support on May 6, just a day after her blog post.

In the caption of the post, Circle expounded on her feelings.

"You guys this community is so amazing!" she wrote. "God is here! He is in this!! Pray for them. Pray for those who don't know Jesus that they may come to know him through this! My heart is so full. I love you all!"

Many people have also come together to raise money for the family.

Lisa Leonard Designs is selling a necklace in memory of Ryan with a portion of the profits going to the family, while Thrive Moms, a community to support and encourage mothers, is accepting donations for the family. A GoFundMe page has also been created for the family and has already reached more than $37,000 in one day.

"Let's shower this sweet family with our love by filling up social media with pictures and prayers and reminders that they are not alone, and tag them #redballoonsforryan," Thrive Moms wrote on their blog. "This is the time, if ever there was, to be the hands and feet of Jesus."

Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is studying journalism and editing at Brigham Young University.

Email: amoore@deseretdigital.com Twitter: @alison_kathleen

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