RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBSLA.com) — Strangers are grouping together online to help the family of a little boy they will never know.
CBS2's Kristine Lazar said that a large group of people have formed to help the family of Ryan Cruz Saldana, a 3-and-a-half-year-old boy who was fatally struck by a pickup truck in Rancho Cucamonga last Friday.
Saldana was playing outside the home of a relative's home when he was struck. He ran into the street to retrieve a Frisbee.
Lazar said the kindness of these strangers is helping the South Pasadena family get through this difficult tragedy.
"He loved his family. He loved Disneyland. He loved Ninja Turtles. He just really loved his family," said Alissa Circle, a Saldana family friend.
The online movement began Monday. It started with just one mom who wanted to reach out to the family to support them.
Lazar reported, "First it was one mom. Then ten. Then 100 -- and now thousands."
Blogger and friend Circle was asked to write something about the little boy.
"His mom just needed someone to write something in memory of her son," said Circle, "and I told her I would."
Circle wrote a heartfelt post about Ryan and added a link to it alongside his photo on Instagram. The post -- #redballoonsforryan, playing off of his distinctive red hair.
Three days later, the photo has been shared more than 30,000 times -- mostly by fellow moms. The shares are from people who never met the family, from all over the country.
"I think this is the most powerful display of love moms could have with one another," said Circle.
Lazar said the boy's parents were too consumed by grief to be able to talk on camera about the loss of their only son.
But, through Circle, they conveyed their thanks to those strangers.
"We want people to know how incredible Ryan was and is. The fact that this has grown out of our control is the work of God. And Ryan ... making sure we no longer take our days for granted," Circle relayed.
A growing memorial of balloons, stuffed animals, chalk messages left on the sidewalk and candles has also grown at the accident site.
Ryan's parents, Jacqui and Dan Saldana, both 29, responded with two large thank you notes on her front lawn.
"It's making her stronger," said Circle, "that people are remembering that life is so precious and it can change at any moment."
for more features.