SANDY — She lost both her parents and sister in a car crash six years ago.
As the anniversary of the crash approaches, 14-year-old Diana Jo Jarman, who goes by Joie, is asking people to do something: a random act of kindness.
She was only 8 years old when she endured tremendous loss. “The first few years were pretty hard,” she said, “but after a while I just kind of got used to the idea and it wasn’t that sad to me anymore.
On Aug. 18, 2007, the family — Nick Weaver, 28, Ruth Weaver, 30, and their daughters Joie and 2-year-old Audrey — was on its way to a family reunion in Idaho. Close to the Idaho border on I-84, their pickup blew a tire, jumped the median and collided head-on with a semitrailer.
The parents and Audrey Weaver were killed, while Joie was injured.
A couple who saw the crash rushed to offer aid. They helped the little girl. When somebody thought the truck would explode, they moved her to their car and covered bodies with blankets.
“They protected her from a lot of devastation. They had girls the same age and were able to comfort her in a way, they understood what her needs were,” said Mary Jarman, the teen’s aunt.
Joie was taken to the hospital where she spent the next five days. The grief was overwhelming, but so was the support.
"You never think that anything like this is going to happen in your own family,” Mary Jarman said.
"After the accident, a ton of people, even if we didn't know them, they would just come and do something for us,” Joie said. “We had so many meals after that it just is kind of like to pay it forward to them.”
That inspired her and her aunt, who, on the first anniversary of the crash, began to think about paying it forward to show their gratitude.
For the first few years, the family shared the idea with relatives and friends.
Then last year, Joie had the idea of starting the Facebook page Random Acts of Kindness: Celebrating Kindness, encouraging strangers to participate. And strangers did. About 1,500 people accepted the invitation.
"A few people did post what they did. Somebody left a huge tip at a dinner once," Joie said. "It just makes me smile cause it's like they're doing that for, kind of like for me, in honor of my family and it makes me feel a lot happier.”
Joie, who was adopted by her aunt and uncle, hopes to get 3,000 people to participate this year. She believes that's a better way to remember her parents and sister and to honor them.
"I don't like living in the past and would rather be happy and live life to the fullest,” the teen said.
She's asking people to pay it forward this Sunday, Aug. 18, even with just a small gesture like smiling at a stranger.
“My parents were really kind people,” Joie said, “so this is also just a way to remember them because this is something that they would have done and it just makes the day happy instead of sad.”
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company