Social Media and Prominent Houston Athletes Lead Support for Grieving Family
This week’s news was filled with your typical stories of economic gloom, greedy lockouts, senseless shootings, and waging wars. Just when you think the human race has taken a turn for the worst, comes a story out of Houston, Texas, where tragedy is bringing people from all over the world, of all faiths and backgrounds together, to help a family, many have never even met.
The Berry family was traveling back from their annual Colorado trip over the 4th of July weekend when their passenger van was hit head on by a distracted driver of a 4runner just outside of Fort Stockton, Texas. Joshua Berry, 40, and Robin Berry, 41, died on the scene. Their sons Peter, 9 and Aaron, 8 suffered spinal cord injuries and are paralyzed from the waist down. Daughter Willa, 6, suffered a broken arm, ankle and knee. The driver 31, year old Michael Doyle, from Arizona, became distracted while looking for a DVD and was severely injured. His passenger and wife 28, year old Collen Doyle was killed on impact and their one-year-old daughter, was mercifully unharmed.
The Berry children began receiving a magnitude of support and donations after Justin Bieber, Scott Braun and Jared Paul created the Show Your Hearts campaign. Using social media as his forum, Bieber tweeted: “tomorrow we all change our profile pics on Twitter and Facebook and make a donation #SHOWYOURHEARTS. spread the word. #makeachange.” The day that tweet went out, #SHOWYOURHEARTS began trending all over the world, even as far as China. Over the next few hours celebrities like P-Diddy, Brittney Spears, the cast of Glee, Lady Gaga, and even Ellen DeGeneres got involved, taking to their own Twitter accounts to change their profile pictures and make donations in order to raise awareness and funds for the Joshua and Robbin Berry’s Children’s Trust.
With one tweet, a movement was started over night. Prominent Houston sports figures like Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, tight end Owen Daniels, and tackle Eric Winston paid a hospital visit to the boys. Even new Houstonian and Texans first round pick J.J. Watt dropped by and gave the boys his personal cell phone and e-mail and told them they could call him anytime. Before a game Astros All-Star Hunter Pence, stopped by to drop off some autographed bats and play video games with the eldest Peter.
The power these athletes and celebrities are given by their fans and the media means nothing unless they are able to use their influence for something bigger than themselves, bigger than all of us. So many of these athletes and celebrities worth is based on their ability to sell out a stadium, push some t-shirt or CD, or appear on reality TV, but all that means nothing unless they are using the power society bestows upon them to influence others to make a difference. Doing good things is contagious and truly at our core, together we can all make a difference.
The tender love and encouragement these children have received keeps pouring in. From lemonade stands in Houston, to prestigious restaurants, and art galleries in Los Angeles. There have been benefit concerts held on their behalf. The Houston Rockets started the 10,000 hugs to help campaign. Family owned bakeries and salons have been holding fundraisers and the tremendous support from the Jewish community that both Joshua and Robin were heavily involved in has been overwhelming.
This is only the beginning for the children who not only have to deal with the grief of losing both their parents, but there is also the medical cost, rehab, schooling and basic necessities. The two boys are currently being treated in Chicago, at the Shriners Hospital for Children. Willa is in Houston, being cared for by relatives. The children’s legal guardian will be Joshua’s brother Matthew Berry and his wife Simone. On Saturday Simone released a video on the families Facebook page stating, “you have given us the strength, courage, hope and healing energy to get through everyday…the children are working very, very hard on their long journey ahead. They continue to be inspired and thrive on all your love and support as they gain mobility and independence.”
Michael Doyle is recovering with his daughter back in Arizona and dealing with the loss of his wife. A grand jury later this month will decide whether to charge Doyle with criminally negligent homicide and injury to a child. The Berry family has no plans to sue. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Berry and Doyle families as they both deal with their own tragedies.
If you would like to make a donation please go to www.showyourhearts.org. If you would like to create or attend a fundraiser in your area please visit http://www.facebook.com/BerryChildren for more information. You can also text BERRY to 85944 to make a $10 donation remember to reply yes to confirm your donation.
I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. ~Jewish Proverb