Strangers Send Thousands of Rainbow Pictures to Comfort Orphaned Autistic Boy

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Losing a loved one is perhaps one of the most painful things a person can experience. For one nine-year-old autistic boy from Cohoes, New York, that was exactly what happened…times two.

In early May 2017, Robbie’s mother passed away after battling Cystic Fibrosis and Gastroparesis. Less than a month later, his father also passed away after overdosing.

“Every single thing that meant something to him he lost in a matter of 22 days, at nine years old, and being autistic,” said his aunt and new legal guardian, Crystal Skawinski.

Robbie’s understanding of their passing is that “Mommy went to the hospital and daddy went to work.”

To explain his parents’ deaths to him further, Skawinski says they crossed over the “Rainbow Bridge.” Robbie’s father had told him about this when his mother died, so she continued the concept after his father passed. On her phone, Skawinski also has a picture of a gorgeous rainbow that spanned over top of Robbie’s school on the day his mother died.

The picture Skawinski took on the day of her sister's death.

The gorgeous rainbow that appeared over Robbie’s school on the day his mother died

Now, whenever it rains, the duo go outside and see if they can find a rainbow. Those colorful light displays bring comfort to Robbie and help him feel like his parents are nearby.

Rainbows are relatively rare, however, so even if he and his aunt go looking for them, they may not find them.

That was why Skawinski took to Facebook and requested that people send pictures of rainbows—double rainbows, especially, if at all possible.

Her post exploded across the internet, and she received thousands of rainbow pictures from all over the world—even as far as Taiwan!

“I had no idea that one little picture of my nephew standing there looking for a rainbow was going to bring this kind of support,” she said.

Facebook/Theresa Birdsall Wheeler

Facebook/Theresa Birdsall Wheeler

She’s now hanging onto those pictures and plans to show them to Robbie on days when he particularly needs his parents.

“Now he has a place to go, so if it’s not raining outside or if it is raining but there’s no rainbow, now he has a place to go to get that comfort,” she says.

Learn more about this sweet story in the video below!

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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.