Porch lights have been turning on across North America in honour of a New Brunswick teenager who turned a terminal prognosis into an online movement that inspired acts of kindness around the globe.
Rebecca Schofield died of brain cancer in Moncton on Saturday evening at the age of 18.
Hundreds of members of a Facebook group dedicated to her #BeccaToldMeTo movement said they were turning on their porch lights Sunday evening in her honour, in places like California, Texas, Florida and across Canada.
“Porch light on in Arizona in memory of Becca,” commented Facebook user Cynthia Howard on a post that had been shared more than 2,200 times by Monday morning.
We are deeply saddened to hear that Becca has passed. Becca fought her #braintumours while inspiring the world to perform Random Acts of Kindness. Her family have asked for some time to grieve in private, we ask that you honour their wishes, Be kind, #BeccaToldMeTo. pic.twitter.com/C7PvpJOt22
— Brain Tumour Fdn (@BrainTumourFdn) February 18, 2018
The Riverview, N.B., teenager penned a bucket list in December 2016 after learning her years-long battle with brain cancer had taken a turn for the worse, with doctors giving her only months to live.
The list included some of life’s simple pleasures — playing with puppies, eating her dad’s macaroni and cheese — and one more altruistic request. She asked her thousands of Facebook followers to help her cross an item off the list by performing random acts of kindness and posting them online under the hashtag #BeccaToldMeTo.
“I want to create a mass of acts of kindness,” Schofield told her thousands of Facebook followers.
Her request soon went viral, with people as far away as Australia posting their good deeds to social media with the hashtag ”#BeccaToldMeTo.”
The campaign even attracted the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who recognized Schofield’s “bravery, volunteerism and inspiring commitment to community” in a February 2017 tweet.
Politicians including New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant and Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc have offered their condolences, and the New Brunswick RCMP tweeted that its flag was flying at half mast Monday.
Schofield’s family released a statement Sunday that said her supporters “gave her hope that all the good and the bad of the past three years had a meaning, even at times when that was hard to see.”
“You gave her the profound blessing of knowing in her too short life that she had made a difference,” the statement said.
“If the love of a community actually had the medical power to cure childhood cancer, we believe Becca would have lived forever. While that wasn’t possible, we believe the countless acts of kindness Becca and her family have received from a community of caring people literally around the globe has at least helped soothe all of our souls.”
People post good deeds to Schofield’s Facebook page on a daily basis, celebrating acts ranging from holding the door open for someone to sending a box of bath items to Canadian soldiers in Kuwait.
Thousands of dollars have been raised in Schofield’s honour, in addition to donations of food, clothing and blood.
The New Brunswick government declared the third Saturday of September “Becca Schofield Day,” and kicked off the inaugural event in 2017.
Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press