But March 6 — the day Taylor should have became a teenager — won’t hold the same kind of celebration she had planned. The Johnson City girl’s life was cut short in January after complications from the flu. It was then her parents and relatives really saw the impact a 12-year-old could have on the world.
And they don’t want that impact to lose momentum. To celebrate Taylor’s life, her family is asking everyone to do something Taylor herself often talked about — a random act of kindness.
Taylor’s aunt, Kathy Oakes, has acted as the family spokeswoman during the time since the girl’s death. She said Taylor’s parents, Tim and Ellen Smith, wanted to honor their daughter in a special way next week.
“Ellen and Tim have been trying to decide about what they could do to honor her on what would have been her 13rth birthday. She already had a Pinterest board called ‘My 13th Birthday,’ ” Oakes said.
As March got closer, Taylor’s parents came up with the idea for the family to do a random act of kindness to honor her.
“Then it just kept growing. What if I shared with everyone in my sphere and you shared it with everyone in your sphere,” she said.
The family wanted to “put the word out there for everyone to have a reason to shine.”
So the event, Random Act of Kindness in Taylor Scout Smith’s Honor, is well under way. There’s a Facebook page with that title and Taylor’s family hopes anyone inspired to do a random act of kindness will share what they did. They’re also using #shinelikethestars as a way to track what people do for others.
“If we all hashtag the same thing, we can click that and see what everybody has done,” Oakes said.
She created the Facebook page Tuesday and by Wednesday morning there were already posts about things people had done. Katie Price Crawford wrote, “Jonah and I completed our 1st act of kindness this morning. He likes to get Caramel coffee for our school crossing guard. We love you Taylor!! #shinelikethestars.”
And Melody Mefford Hughes wrote: “I hope the people in drive thru enjoyed their free bojangles this morning! 1 RAK down, 1 million to go! #shinelikethestars.”
When word about Taylor’s death started to spread, it spread far and wide. It wasn’t just the tragedy of her death, but the inspiration of her life that sent the story around the world. Specifically, it was a letter Taylor wrote to herself just after she turned 12 that wasn’t to be opened until she was 22 years old. In that letter, Taylor reminded herself about her life at 12 and asked some pointed questions about her dreams and aspirations and whether she’d followed through with them.
The Smiths heard from hundreds of people around the world about how Taylor’s letter inspired them to pick themselves up and brush themselves off.
“It has definitely slowed down,” but letters from around the world are still trickling in, Oakes said.
“They have gotten letters from parents who lost a child who wanted to say how much this meant to them or the majority of what they’ve heard is from college students who said ‘I’m that person. I’m Taylor Smith at 22.’ The story has challenged them to live on purpose,” she said.
“It’s such a great story. We wish it was someone else’s, but having her in our lives for 12 years, 8 months, 29 days was a blessing.”
The Smith family asks that anyone who does a random act of kindness for Taylor to let them know on social media by using the phrase #shinelikethestars so they will know.
“If they would #shinelikethestars, they can Twitter or Facebook and that will link it all together,” Oakes said.