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Feb 14 2017
by Morgan Bayless

Have You Heard of Esther Day?

By Morgan Bayless - Feb 14 2017
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Valentine's Day is here! The Hallmark holiday is all about heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, romantic dates at the local Cheesecake Factory, or cuddling and watching Netflix with your sweetie. Everyone knows what to expect from the day that was created for romantic love, but have you heard of Esther Day? If you're a Nerdfighter or an avid follower of author John Green and/or his brother Hank, then you likely have. 

(Esther demonstrating the official Nerdfighter sign.) Photo Credit: YouTube

"Esther Day is a holiday on August 3, commemorating Nerdfighter Esther Earl's birthday."  It is a celebration of the kind of love that is often overlooked on Valentine's Day — platonic love; a love between friends and family. Esther Grace Earl was a vlogger, a large part of the Harry Potter Alliance, and an avid social media personality. She was only sixteen when she died after battling thyroid cancer, but that is not where her story ends.

Because Esther was involved in such tight-knit, welcoming communities, she made a variety of friends — the most notable being her friendship with author John Green. Green celebrates Esther Day by (dreadfully) telling his brother Hank that he loves him, which all started with a video made by the vlogbrothers in 2010 called I Love Hank: Esther Day 2010. For those of you who don't know what John Green is famous for, he wrote the novel The Fault in Our Stars (later made into a major motion-picture). John Green often credits inspiration for the completion of this novel to Esther Earl, but wants you to know that it is not the story of her life. The main character of the novel and Esther actually share the same middle name.

(Acknowledgment in TFIOS by John Green) Photo Credit: Morgan Bayless

Before TFIOS was published, came the story of Esther's life and battle titled This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl. The book is a collection of letters, drawings and fiction by Esther herself. Among her own words are pictures and stories from Esther's family and closest friends, and an introduction written by John Green.  

However, the biggest and most important adventure that has come from the legacy of Esther is the non-profit founded by her parents called This Star Won't Go Out. TSWGO's mission is to help the families of children with cancer through financial support. Since the foundation hit the ground running in 2011, it has been able to give $400,000 to the families of these children to help with not only payments for treatment, but also things such as rent or utility costs, and even items that the child battling cancer may need. 

(Esther Grace Earl.) Photo Credit: YouTube

Esther Grace Earl was often described as vibrant and full of love and light, even in her hardest days. In a speech given by her father, Wayne, at a convention in San Diego, he says that even in her younger years Esther had enough radiating confidence to fill a football stadium. Before Esther's passing, John Green promised that as long as he and Hank continued to make vlogbrothers videos they would dedicate one day every year to her. When she was asked what she wanted the day to be about, John said "She wanted it to be about love between family and friends — a Valentine's Day for the rest of love."

(LeakyCon 2014 - Harry Potter convention - photo credit: TSWGO.org)

So today is Valentine's Day, a day for romantic love and appreciation of your partner. However, let us not forget Esther Day — a day for celebrating a different kind of love. A day to celebrate the love that is harder to express to the people closest to you. Let us remember the sixteen year old girl who created a world of compassion and empathy out of her fight. 

In the words of Esther Earl, "Just be happy, and if you can't be happy do things that make you happy. Or do nothing with the people who make you happy." Rest in Awesome, Esther.

Lead Image Credit: YouTube

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Morgan Bayless - Slippery Rock University

I am a freshman at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. I am currently majoring in English with a focus in creative writing & minoring in communications soon. I classify myself as an optimistic opportunist. Follow my Instagram and Twitter if you appreciate inspirational stories and/or vulgarity: @morgxmarie.

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