VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - While mourning the death of their one-year-old daughter due to a rare disease, a North County couple chose to honor her memory by inspiring acts of kindness among strangers.
Shaun and Megan Skelton launched a hashtag, #BeKindforSloane, which has begun spreading across the country.
The Skelton’s daughter, Sloane, suffered from a rare genetic condition known as Hurler's Syndrome. Skelton underwent a bone marrow transplant but died from complications shortly after.
Approaching the holiday season and what would have been her second birthday, the Skeltons decided to take action in a way that would keep Sloane's memory alive through helping others.
"What our kids can teach us is pretty amazing, even if they're only here for a short time," Shaun Skelton told 10News.
They printed pictures of Sloane and took them, along with a $100 gift card, to their local Starbucks in Vista. They asked the manager to use the gift card to pay for the drinks of the people who came after and to explain the act of kindness by giving the customer a picture, and by writing #BeKindforSloane on the cup.
People began posting pictures and videos of their cups, sharing the story and the hashtag. The manager later called the Skelton family and told them people were so touched that they kept adding money to the gift card, which lasted the entire day. The family was also stunned to learn that people across the state saw the posts on social media and purchased gift cards for others in their own communities.
In addition to #BeKindforSloane, the Skeltons also organized a book drive, born from Sloane's great joy when volunteers at the hospital used to bring her new picture books to look at.
Friends and family across the country began collecting books to donate to their own children's hospitals, including 600 delivered to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego by Shaun and Megan.
They anticipate 1,500 books will be donated nationwide; each will have a sticker on the title page honoring Sloane's memory.
"It'll be a kid in the hospital who says this little kid, who I never met, got me through this tough time," Shaun said. "That's how we'll keep her alive."
The Skelton family plans to hold the book drive and #BeKindforSloane campaigns again ahead of the 2019 holidays.
They ask that anyone interested in helping reach out to them through the hashtag. They also encourage people to learn more about Hurler's Syndrome by visiting mpssociety.org and to sign up to become bone marrow donors at bethematch.org.