A 9-year-old boy who has autism received thousands of pictures of rainbows from strangers all over the world after both of his parents died only weeks apart from each other.
Crystal Skawinski said she gained guardianship of her nephew, Robbie, after both her sister and brother-in-law died less than a month apart, according to WABC.
The boy's mother, Shelly Ecuyer, sucumbed to gastroparesis and cystic fibrosis May 2. His father, Robert Ecuyer, died from an overdose following a long battle with addiction.
The day Robbie's mother died, a double rainbow appeared over his school, according to Inside Edition. A family member snapped a pic and, since then, rainbows acted as a reminder of his parents.
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"It’s actually been a lot easier because we have something to be able to talk about rather than [what] happened," said Skawinski. "It gives him a way to explain it to himself and when he wants to talk about it, we talk about rainbows."
On July 24, Skawinski posted a photo of Robbie looking out toward the sky and called on strangers from around the world to send her pictures of rainbows.
"Today this was Robbie outside in the rain hoping to see a rainbow," she wrote. "He's been told his parents have gone over the rainbow bridge and he looks for them eagerly. Robbie is autistic. I love showing him rainbows so if anyone has any rainbow pics (especially double rainbows) you can always message me or put it in the comments. Then he can see rainbows around the world."
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Thousands of people answered Skawinski's call. In less than a week, the post has gone viral, garnering over 4,800 likes and 6,000 shares. Over 7,000 people have commented, offering their condolences and sharing photos of rainbows.
Skawinski plans to use the photos she receives to make a scrapbook for Robbie. In the days following her original post, she wrote on Facebook that she was overwhelmed by the number of responses she'd received from total strangers.
"Over 8 thousand comments on Robbie's original post," she wrote July 31. "Unbelievable to say the least. Robbie's story has made it's way completely around the world, from local to Alaska and China, The Netherlands, all over the US and beyond. It's amazing to me the kind words and friendly people that I have met this past week. I've been so happy to see all of this love for my nephew."
"One kind little gesture has meant the world to me, and has surely put a smile on his face...I truly wish Robbie understood this whole thing. One day he will. One day he will realize when people see a rainbow now they think of him."