If you want to measure the impact of one radiant smile, consider the story of Jaden Ann Scrivener.
A 16-year old so brightly lit from within that she lifted the mood of entire classrooms just by walking into them, Jaden died in a car accident on the last day of June this year. Three days later and 3,500 miles away, a baby was born at the Ray of Hope Medical Mission in Uganda. They named her Jaden Ann.
And that was just the beginning of Jaden’s legacy.
In the midst of their unfathomable grief, Jaden’s mother Julie, father Dean and younger sister Ella, generously suggested that those mourning Jaden might donate to the clinic at which the family had volunteered. From around the world, people responded.
To date, Jaden’s friends and family have raised $28,000 with more coming in every day, including proceeds from an upcoming mask and T-shirt sale. The funds benefit the Ray of Hope Medical Mission, a maternity center that helps mothers give birth to healthy babies and provides a sanctuary for babies born with conditions that need additional medical care or evacuation. The center now features the Jaden Ann Nursery, a perfect tribute to a renown hugger who loved to wrap her arms around babies, friends, teachers, coaches, family members and dogs.
In addition to a legacy of love, Jaden left journals full of writings and doodles that describe her faith journey and intentions to maximize each day. She wrote “Live a life worthy of this calling you have received,” which has become a rallying cry for those who mourn her. #LLJ, live like Jaden, has been trending from Spain, where Jaden lived with her family, across the world to right here in Appleton, her mother’s hometown.
The girl who loved flowers also has been memorialized by a sea of sunflowers, some planted, some photographed, painted, tattooed, jeweled, printed, drawn and doodled.
Like those flowers, which stretch tall from some unlikely places, Jaden’s legacy of kindness, laughter, love, faith, hope and beauty also will continue to grow in worthy tribute to a young girl whose bright light lives on.
In just 16 years, Jaden made an impact on the earth more profound than many of us will achieve in lifetimes six times as long.
I know I intend to rise to Jaden’s doodled challenge to live a life worthy of the calling I’ve received.
To donate to the Jaden Scrivener Memorial Fund, please click here.