As the smoke started to clear and the shock set in, there was one face that appeared to personify the toll of human loss amid Friday's Aurora movie theatre massacre.
It wasn't just Jessica Ghawi's bright eyes and lovely smile that made her death — and the destruction of 11 other vibrant, promising lives — so unfathomable.
Media outlets rushed to connect the 24-year-old aspiring sportscaster, who was know professionally as Jessica Redfield, to the narrow escape she experienced months earlier during Toronto's Eaton Centre shooting.
The idea that someone could just miss getting caught in the crossfire of a major violent episode only to end up — tragically this time — at the centre of another, struck many as the worst, most bewildering sort of odds.
But as the National Post reports, Ghawi's family is harnessing the power of social media to create something positive in her memory.
The Official Jessica Redfield Sports Journalism Scholarship Fund, on crowdfunding site Indiegogo.com, has already raised more than $24,000 toward helping other aspiring sports journalists realize their broadcasting dreams.
"Jessica worked several jobs in order to keep going to school here in Denver, and worked as many intern positions with the different teams and media stations to prepare for a career that was cut way too short," reads a description from the page, adding that she'd moved to Aurora only four weeks before she died to save money toward that goal.
In addition to soliciting donations, the page's creators ask that people help their cause by posting the message on all available social media platforms.
It's an astute tactic to build on the momentum and emotion generated by the tragedy.
A similar phenomenon emerged after video of bus monitor Karen Klein getting bullied by a pack of vicious 12-year-old boys went viral.
Max Sidorov was so upset by what he saw the Toronto man started a fundraising page to send the 70-year-old widow on her dream vacation.
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That noble sentiment turned into a financial windfall as people equally disgusted by the video donated over $700,000.
Though official charities have long been the go-to gatekeepers for donation funds, independent sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.com create a sense of immediacy, control and direct connection that some of the more established institutions lack.
While donators have to operate on faith — there's no way to verify if their money will, in fact, reach its intended target — Indiegogo co-founder Slava Rubin told the Post that most people are savvy enough to pinpoint a bogus operation.
"[C]rowdfunding in itself is a great deterrent for 'false' campaigns … The social dynamics and democratic nature of crowdfunding make it much more difficult to raise funds for fraudulent campaigns," she said.
Once a concept that seemed dedicated to helping artists fund their projects, crowdfunding sites appear to have found a new, altruistic angle.
In addition to the Ghawi fund, seven other pages have popped up to aid victims of the Aurora shooting, including one dedicated to covering medical bills.
(Photo courtesy AFP)