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#StolenMoments: From tragedy, an online inspiration

NEED TO KNOW
  • After daughter's unexpected death, a family tries to help others
  • 'Stolen Moments' campaign to provide an unforgettable experience for some other little girl
  • Dad: 'Let us live vicariously through their joy'
#StolenMoments: From tragedy, an online inspiration

"We're not sure what happened. We woke up this morning, and she did not."

Larry Carroll's story is terrifying. But what he's done in its wake is inspiring.

The Los Angeles dad put his energetic, apparently healthy, 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Savannah, to bed on April 4. But, as he explained, she never woke up. Doctors are still trying to determine the cause of her death.

Heartbroken, he sat down at his computer that night and was somehow able to channel his emotion into creating something wonderful.

Carroll launched a crowdsourced fundraising page on Fundly -- not for his family, but for someone else's.

"My dream is to take every penny of those donations," he wrote, "locate a special little girl somewhere in the world -- and give her and her family the 'Stolen Moment' that we'll never be able to make with our baby Savannah."

The entertainment writer explained that "when 'Savvy' was with us, we shared lots of unplanned memories with her. A surprise trip to an indoor playground, an unexpected cookie at Starbucks, a walk along the beach on a random Tuesday afternoon -- and I came to refer to these as 'Stolen Moments.'" The outlet for his grief, then, is to provide one unforgettable "Stolen Moment" for another little girl and her family.

"Perhaps we can send them to Disneyland, and get them the greatest hotel room ever. Perhaps we could fly them somewhere," he suggests on the fundraising site. "I want to give some little person a moment with her Mom and Dad that she'll remember forever -- a moment that they would never have without us doing this."

Carroll says the family will be selected at random by himself and his wife just by going out and observing other families until they find one with a little girl that reminds them of the one they suddenly lost.

"Let us live vicariously through their joy and know that if Savannah had lived to that age, maybe we would have had that moment with her," he told Today.com.

Carroll, who also has a 5-year-old son, set a target of $10,000. Anything beyond that, he and his wife will set aside for the girl's college expenses. As of Friday evening, his campaign had already raised more than $80,000.

The idea has taken off not only on the fundraising page, but across the Internet as well, where grateful parents are posting photos of the simple, special moments they have shared with their own children, with the hashtag #StolenMoments.

A bundled-up young girl on a sled during winter, a boy happily clutching his ice cream cone, a brother and sister on the couch with their family dogs; intentional or not, Larry Carroll's touching tribute to his daughter has inspired thousands of other parents around the country to perhaps cherish all those beautiful everyday moments just a little bit more.

The pictures and posts are all evidence that -- besides the larger plan to present one random family with a remarkable gift -- one of Carroll's wishes after his own tragedy has already come true.

"Please," he implores on his Fundly page, "I ask that you do this for my Savannah, the girl I would give anything to have back in my arms right now: Hug your child tight, tell them that you love them. Every. Damn. Day."

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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