As a person who teaches building healthy relationships, I am always leery of “virtual relationships” and social communities were the majority of interaction does not take place face to face. Do not get me wrong, I am a part of several. I just have always questioned their ability to be as effective as real life face-to-face relationships. This past week I witnessed a social community come together in a way that could not occur if it were not for social media and “virtual relationships”. I watched a group rally around a family in need with amazing speed. A community burst forth with love and compassion. The outpouring of support and love was humbling to witness and watch and it was almost exclusively done via social media.

In previous blogs I have written, I have mentioned that my son Tyler who has fragile X syndrome helped connect our family to “the best group we never hoped to be a part of”. This fragile x community, family really, once again made me extremely proud to be a member as we rallied around the Davenport family. On Friday January 10th Logan Davenport, an 18 year old young man with fragile x, died in a house fire. His family, now dealing with the worst nightmare a parent can face, had to deal with issues around funeral planning and the costs that go with such a tragedy. Like many parents, they had no life insurance on their child. One of the members of our community immediately jumped into action and started a web site to raise money to help offset the cost. Within three days the total money raised had already reached over $20,000.00. That number, though donations have slowed, continues to grow with the hope that a memorial fund can also be put into place. I have no doubt after watching people give this week that goal will be accomplished.

As the days neared to when the visitation and funeral would take place, the community again rallied. Hundreds of people posted their condolences and support for the Davenport family. Profile pictures on Facebook changed to visual memorials honoring Logan. On Thursday and Friday hundreds of people wore yellow and blue, Logan’ favorite colors, and posted their pictures on Facebook. The pictures were organized into a special folder for the family. Over 300 photos occupy that picture folder today. We could not make it to Georgia to give comfort to the family in person but we could show that we were thinking and praying for them in a very real way.

As technology continues to move forward perhaps, it can actually help bring people together in a way that would not have been possible in the past. It is hard for many families with children who have special needs to leave their homes and get connected into their local communities. It is hard to know the realities of life in a family that is impacted by a child with challenging behaviors unless you experience it first hand on a daily basis. This past week I witnessed real love and compassion. People showed true care and concern and gave selflessly to a family in need. I was witness to an amazing amount of cooperation and respect. There was real emotion in very real relationships. Thank you social media for bridging miles so a family in need could be supported…not “virtually”, but very real!!

Tim Geels, MA – SVP of Instruction