This post is a story that not only impacted me deeply on a personal level, but serves as a wonderful example of how a geographical representation of love and support can be powerful in its own right. It was difficult to decide if this was a “Founder’s Reflection” post or if I should include it in “Pin Map Highlights” but I ultimately chose the reflection because this post is truly a representation of how I personally feel about a recent string of events that demonstrates the power of love and gratitude and in a small way, incorporates the pin map elements of uencounter.me.

Last week, we released the ability for UE users to create public maps that could be pinned by any other user. The process is imperfect as is (we are beta testing it) but we believed it to be a great feature with tons of potential. That evening, we noticed a large number of new accounts and pins dropping on the very first public map created titled “Prayers and Lights for Liam”. Always curious, I investigated a little and found that one of our users had created the map for a little fellow fighting for his life. There is a Facebook page dedicated to people who are praying for him and leaving their porch lights on in demonstration of support and hope. Our user had asked the followers of that page to mark their location on the map so that the family could geographically visualize the scope of the love and prayers that were being offered.

Photo borrowed from the “I love Liam Lyon” page

I spent some time reading through Liam Lyon’s story and was touched down to the core of my soul by the challenges that the family and this beautiful little boy with big eyes and a contagious smile faced. Moreover, I was blown away by the outpouring of love for a child that most everyone had only read about. As a founder of uencounter.me, I was honored that someone had chosen our platform for representation of that support.

You see, when I originally conceptualized uencounter.me – much of it was focused on expressing gratitude for people in our lives that we may only come across casually, the ones that perhaps we don’t stop to acknowledge except in retrospect. Often we don’t know names or are never formally introduced and only have the time in place reference to go on. The uencounter.me map is a stage to drop a note of appreciation based solely on the location where the ‘encounter’ took place. As it progressed, the whole ‘pin map’ concept evolved and is now used for a multitude of reasons from business tracking to travel maps and even geographic address books. Liam’s map was the first public map to be created and it was for the purpose of pinning love and support – how fabulous!

I became fixated on both the map and on Liam’s Facebook pages, following along as the family and friends posted updates about his condition and felt invested in the experience of offering prayer and encouragement. I started to wonder how I could be helpful personally but also wondered how my baby – uencounter.me – could make a small impact in the journey of this family. I reached out to Liam’s family but unfortunately their brave little warrior started to decline and on Monday evening those of us following along with concern were incredibly saddened to learn that “Liam has his wings and Heaven has a new angel”; words the family posted.

The immediate outpouring of condolences and expressions of grace, love, and peace were awe inspiring. Within minutes there were thousands and thousands of comments; truly incredible. Of course, the family is grief stricken and must now process the unimaginable change in their lives but I am motivated to honor Liam and his bold little life – one that brought almost 100,000 people together – by using the only tool that I have… uencounter.me and because I believe that my brief exposure to Liam’s story was an ‘encounter’ I will forever be grateful for.

Uencounter.me is a very small start-up business. We have bootstrapped every facet of the operation and I, along with two other co-founders, work without salaries in each spare moment we can find outside our daily responsibilities of generating income and raising families. This… is not about making money. It is about offering what we have in a way that says ‘thanks’ for letting us be a part of the journey by using UE to illustrate love on the very first public map created. Hence, in honor of William Elijah Lyon (dubbed ‘Liam’) – For one week, beginning on the day of his life celebration (Sunday, Sept. 9th 2012 through Saturday, September 15th, 2012) uencounter.me will donate (In Liam’s name) $8.00 for every $9.00 collected on AD FREE account upgrades, to the new “I Love Liam Lyon Foundation” that the family is beginning.  After our processing fees are removed, we will generate approximately $.66 cents per upgrade in revenue that we will keep to promote gratitude on our mapping platform (we believe in transparency!).

We hope that in some small way, we can honor Liam’s life, give to a worthy foundation, and increase awareness of gratitude. This story is only one of what I am sure are thousands of examples of how important seemingly insignificant ‘encounters’ are in the lives of everyday people. As such, we will continue donating to charities that are important in the lives of people who create public maps demonstrating gratitude, love, & support on the UE platform. I’m not sure how this will be done or what the frequency will be – but it is my commitment to the memory of a little guy who has touched the world and the benefactor of UE’s first public map of love!

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