CREATED Aug. 19, 2013
LABELLE, Fla. - People across the country are rallying behind Zachary Reyna, the 12-year-old boy from LaBelle who is fighting a deadly brain infection he contracted while knee-boarding in a ditch near his home. His Facebook page, "Pray4Number4," has garnished attention from more than 9,000 users on Facebook and now, even celebrities are getting involved.
Taylor Swift, the New York Yankees, and the Saint Louis Cardinals have sent Zac gifts and words of encouragement.
"[His family] is getting love and support that they wouldn't get if they kept it all to themselves," said social media expert Jessica Barton with Spiro & Associates.
Barton said Zac's page is the fastest and easiest way for his family to get information out about the little boy's condition.
"As a parent, the first thing you want to do is let as many people know how your kid is doing," she said. "It used to be you had to make 50 phone calls but now, his family can put it on Facebook and they're reaching over 8,900 people with every post."
"Pray4Number4" isn't just informing, it's uniting. Texas dad Jeremy Lewis lost his son to the same brain eating amoeba at age seven. His foundation, Kyle Cares, has been sending words of hope to Zac's family through Zac's page.
"It's a family... you become family very quickly because you know exactly what that person is going through and/or that they're going through what we experienced," Lewis said.
Above all, "Pray4Number4" is raising awareness and hopefully, preventing other families from going through this.
"You wouldn't think that playing in a fresh water lake or puddle would be a way to get a brain eating amoeba, but now, because of social media, you can do a little bit of reading and learn a lot and find that perhaps you can prevent this quite readily," Barton said.