One Week ago, I read Eric Meyer announce on Twitter that his daughter, Rebecca, had died after a fight with brain cancer. She was just six years old.
Like many people associated with the Web Design/Development Community, I was also aware of Rebecca’s declining health from the brave, heartbreaking and honest accounts by Eric on his website.
Eric has given so much to web designers and developers, people, the World over, and he and his family had just lost their baby girl, their Little Spark.
I had to do something as a show of support, but I’m unfamiliar with this sort of thing. What could be done? Nothing would seem sufficient enough to help, right?
Then it occurred to me that I probably wasn’t alone in feeling this way about Eric, his family, and Rebecca. If there was a focus to get behind on the Web, that others could pick up and use in support - that’s when the hashtag on twitter idea sprang to mind. Eric had written how Rebecca’s favourite colour was purple, and Eric is known for his work with CSS, so the hex code of #663399 seemed logical to me, but I couldn’t use it as a twitter hash-tag because it was just a set of numbers (not permitted on twitter), so I added the shorter version of Rebecca (Becca) to make #663399Becca. My only thought was that if it could ‘trend’ on twitter, then Eric and his family would be aware of how much support there was for them at such a difficult time.
Based in Hertfordshire, England, and with only 40 followers on my twitter profile though, I’d need the help of some bigger names to make a difference - and thankfully Jeffrey Zeldman added his support, and other industry names followed.
By the time the Meyer family, friends and relatives had gathered at the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio, for a service they hoped they never needed to attend, that simple hashtag of #663399Becca had been posted thousands of times online, and was trending in the U.S. - an amazing achievement set against tragic circumstances. If this had failed to trend, it still raised awareness anyway and that was a good thing.
Like others, I wish I could have done much more to help.
Here’s one way, donations (any size) can be made to Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (Supporting families of seriously ill children) and St. Baldrick’s Foundation (Childhood Cancer Research)
Fight against Cancer - many replies on twitter (and I’ve read 1000s) strongly bonded with the ongoing battle against Cancer. Donations to Cancer Charities in the wake of this sad event have raised $10,000s+
Web Community Unites - this showed that the Web Design/Development community can pull together for good sometimes too. Personally, that was very humbling and also offers some hope for the future.
(Updated 21/06/14) Official approval of the name ‘rebeccapurple’ for the colour #663399 in CSS Color Level 4 - http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2014Jun/0312.html
…Really didn’t see that one coming, amazing!
Notes: Rebecca used in the colour name instead of Becca, for reasons detailed in Eric’s article ‘rebeccapurple’.
People wrote great things too, here is a current list of some of them:
For the Little Spark and the Meyer Family.
'The Design Method' by Eric Karjaluoto
Design-centric book about processes and how to be a better designer, from the Creative Director at the brilliant SmashLAB.
This was one book I pre-ordered on the first day possible!
Eric also wrote the very good 'Speak Human', which I also recommend.