CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Four years ago, an act of heroism took the life of a popular Chicago pediatric surgeon and left his three kids wondering how to move on.
Now, a startup website by his oldest child is connecting teens with similar stories all over the country.
It’s a sad statistic: 1 in 9 kids will lose a parent before the age of 20, which means there are a lot of teens who can understand what Genevieve Liu went through, and now she's trying to connect them all through a new project.
A lot of teens have that one parent they really connect with. For Liu, it was her dad, Donald.
“He was always someone who understood me. He knew when I was upset, happy or hiding something,” Liu said.
The family was celebrating on Lake Michigan when tragedy hit just minutes into their trip.
“There were two boys who were really struggling. Before I knew it, he ran in after them. Luckily the two boys came back safely, but he was drowned by the riptide,” Liu said.
At 14, Liu says she struggled to move on. Eventually, she connected with an old classmate.
“I was mortified. This girl was so popular, cool. We were not friends and eventually my mom stuck us in the same room and said you two talk,” Liu said.
And not only was it therapeutic, it got her thinking. What if there was a network for teens in similar situations to connect.
“So SLAP'd stands for ‘Surviving Life After A Parent Dies.’ We are the social media for teens who've lost a parent,” Liu said.
Her team includes a fellow classmate from their high school entrepreneur club who's helped build the website that spreads their message.
“Eventually I met a lot of users and really realized how powerful of a mission it is and how much it's already helped so many people,” said Benny Friedman.
Now, there’s a renewed effort to expand even farther and get more teens on board.
“We're recruiting teens to act as ambassadors for our site so they'll be content contributors, writers, editors, social media heads, artists or vloggers,” said Danny Vaughn.
It’s teens helping teens through tragedy.
The site includes pin boards to memorialize parents, articles and forums to chat.
You can find it at Slapd.com