Friday, March 9, 2012

RibbitRibbitt's Tenebrous Island Refuge

A few days ago, a mother posted a heartbreaking plea on the Homeshow forums. Her six year old son has cancer, and after a four year fight, he's been given six to twelve weeks to live. One of the things he loves to do is to run around on his Tenebrous Island Refuge.

He had asked her to add trees, animals, stairs, and other things to make his island more "exciting." Unfortunately, his mother didn't think she was up to the task of decorating the island. Not if she wanted to continue to give him the quality care he deserves in his last months. So she turned to the decorating community.

The outpouring of support she received is staggering. She has admitted that she only hoped for one or two people to help her put together a little something for him. Instead, what she got was hundreds, across all servers. In fact, people are transferring their characters from their own servers to Guk (where the little boy and his family play) in order to help out. I've heard that SoE has even granted a few people exceptions, allowing them to pay for a character transfer when normally they would not be eligible.

Kaeylee's jungle gym. We adjusted the "ladders" for easy climbing.
When I first read the thread, I thought I would simply extend my sympathies. The family wasn't on my own server, and I didn't have the station cash to transfer anything over. Not to mention nothing I had to offer was unique. Then, rereading the thread, I thought of a playground someone on Antonia Bayle had done. I decided to try contacting her, to find out whether she had read the thread. I still don't know whether Kaeylee had read the thread or not before I mentioned it to her, but she jumped on board, willing to offer her layout.

Streppoch adding some lanterns to jazz up Kaeylee's treehouse.
I asked her to provide a manifest, then set about finding the carpenters on Guk who'd offered their services. The ones who'd spoken up in the thread weren't around, but before I'd been on Guk very long, I had offers from a husband and wife carpenter team. Between those two and others, the manifest Kaeylee posted was filled within a day.

At the same time as the carpenters were working on filling Kaeylee's manifest, Afista was working on building a treehouse. When she finished, she posted the manifest in the thread, and had me come to Crushbone to get the layout. With the layout in hand, I waited for Kaeylee's playground to be finished. Once it was done, I loaded Afista's treehouse, then adjusted the positioning so that Kaeylee's treehouse and Afista's treehouse weren't overlapping.

Kaeylee's carousel on the left, Afista's treehouse on the right.

Tonight, I asked Twinklin to take Kaeylee's railroad track and turn it into a roller coaster. She did an excellent job (I know, because I keep seeing people running along the track).

Twinklin's roller coaster over Kaeylee's pond.

grlnxtdr30 has been working on a giant fish tank, and someone else will be building a candy and ice cream bar. Not pictured are the swimming pond, climbing wall, hopscotch court, play castle, center shrine, and a myriad of different decorations. People have been coming in and adding their own touches throughout. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to find out a good 40 or 50 people have added their touches to the island.

People have been flooding the family with gifts of SC plushies and furniture. Others who cannot gift are instead making alts on Guk and purchasing the SC items themselves, then dropping them into the house.

But the EQ2 community didn't stop with the house and the gifts. The people on Guk decided that RibbitRibbitt should have a tier 3 guild hall to play in, too. So they created Lillipad Jungle. Then they recruited raiders and crafters from all over the server to try and level the guild high enough for a T3 guild hall by Saturday. So far, the guild has made it to level 42 in under 48 hours. People are creating crafters to level on crafting writs. They're creating adventurers and powerleveling them, so that they can do adventure writs. And if they're already 90, they're raiding. A few have even transferred over from other servers to join in the adventuring, crafting, and raiding.

On Saturday, the raiders--and anyone else who wants to--will /duelbet each other to raise money for the upkeep of the hall. While they're doing that, crafters and decorators will be working on decorating the guild hall.

Not everyone who will be participating in the /duelbetting is from Guk. Some people are transferring their characters to participate. Others will be creating level 1 characters, to allow raiders to one-shot them in order to raise more money. It's been suggested that people also bring any "cute" races they have, to keep young RibbitRibbitt company while all of this is going on.

It has been both uplifting, humbling, and saddening to be a part of this. It is awesome to see the community come together like this--Zam and EQ2Traders have both posted blurbs about this, generating yet more support from the community. At the same time, it is depressing to realize it is because of a little boy's imminent death that the community has rallied so strongly. I hope that the island, the guild hall, and the support that the family is receiving right now will help to ease their pain just a little when the inevitable time comes for them to say goodbye. Even more than that, I hope that RibbitRibbitt will be a miracle child, and will beat the cancer back.

I smile as I run through the island, imagining a little boy playing here. I grin, running across the monkey bars on the jungle gym and racing down the slide. For a little boy with cancer, this may very well be as close as he can get to a playground.

I giggle, racing along the railroad tracks, and can't help but tear up jumping off the top platform of the treehouse. Afista made sure it was nice and tall, because his mother told us he likes to jump off things.

Somewhere in my own homes, I will be placing a froglok mannequin. I don't yet know what the mannequin will be wearing, because I haven't yet seen RibbitRibbitt with my own eyes. Eventually though, I'll dress it up. Every time I see it, I will remember a little boy, a little boy's family, and the short request from an overwhelmed mother that produced an outpouring of support.