The Peacock Project: A Personal Thank You For Inspiration

John Michael Thomas holding the poster for The Peacock Project you will see in Local shops.

John Michael Thomas holding the poster for The Peacock Project you will see in Local shops.

You may have heard about The Peacock Project in Winter Park. But just in case, this is an Eagle Scout Project undertaken to ensure a friend will always be remembered, be remembered for what she LUVed, where she LUVed being. Elizabeth Buckley was just 13 years old when she passed away on New Year’s Eve 2012. Her friend, John Michael Thomas, has undertaken The Peacock Project in an effort to bring a spectacular peacock fountain to the rose garden in Central Park in her memory. I’ve had a few conversations with John Michael about this effort and each time I come away more in awe of him, this effort. He asked me if I thought we could let Adam Young of the band Owl City know how much his song, ‘Shooting Star’ means to him and has helped him dealing with her loss. I suggested he write a letter, which appears below. It is completely unedited, just as he wrote it. Below also you will find the video John Michael made honoring his friend Elizabeth, which played at her memorial service, featuring the song by Owl City.

It is an honor just to know this young man, to witness the depth of his sincere caring and commitment.

* * * *

Dear Mr. Young,

My name is John Michael Thomas and I am 15 years old. I am with Boy Scout Troop 62 in Winter Park, Florida. I am hoping this letter reaches you because you need to know that your music made a difference in my life.

On New Year’s Eve of 2012, my longtime friend and classmate, Elizabeth Buckley died from an inoperable brain tumor. She was 13 years old. This event changed my live dramatically and I felt as if all hope was lost. It made me realize that bad things do happen to good people. I did not know that an event like this could be so painful and it was hard to make sense out of what happened. It was not suppose to happen to someone so young. It was not fair. It was not suppose to happen to someone so generous and full of life. She was such a good person and example to everyone who knew her.

We received the news about Elizabeth’s passing on New Year’s Day. I love Owl City and I usually listen to your music to cheer me up. That day I was listening to your album The Midsummer Station and I heard your song “Shooting Star” for the first time. I felt very emotional. It reminded me so much of Elizabeth and how bright her life was and how she impacted so many people. It made me realize that even though her life ended in this world her spirit will live on all around us. I have to believe that her short life is for a bigger purpose. My faith told me that even though she left this world and all seemed to grow dark, I had to smile and go forward because that is what she would want. I would make her live on in my heart and in the lives of others. It is now time for her to shine, brighter than a shooting star. The song was both happy and sad for me.

All of the sudden I had an idea and decided to make a slide show for Elizabeth’s reception with “Shooting Star” in the background. It turned out beautifully! (You can see the video below). The song really helped me make sense of things even though I was still angry with God. I had a hard time excepting the truth but your music brought me peace. I know her spirit of love will live on and that she will continue to inspire all who knew her.

So, I just wanted to thank you and let know how much you impacted me and my life.

As time progressed I had to come up with an idea for my Eagle Scout Project. I felt that I needed to do something to honor and remember Elizabeth so that her spirit soars on all around us. I wanted people 20 years from now to remember her and what an extraordinary person she was.

To cut a very long story short I am raising funds for a bronze peacock fountain that is going to go in the center of the rose garden here in Winter Park, Florida. Elizabeth loved peacocks and loved the rose garden. I am thinking about inscribing on the bronze plaque in front of the fountain to read : In honor of my friend and classmate Elizabeth Buckley. “It is time for you to shine brighter than a shooting star.” I hope that is something that is ok with you. I think this can inspire other families to know that when their child looses their battle with a childhood illness, that they will shine on in the hearts of those who love them as well. In fact, they are the brightest stars in the galaxy! If you would like to read more about her or the project see the link below.

Thank you again for composing this song. I hope this letter reaches you.

John Michael Thomas

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