He has a name that inspires a life to be well-lived. Noah Atticus was named after the famed defense lawyer, the protagonist in his parents' favorite book, "To Kill a Mockingbird."
"He's the ideal man you want your son to grow up to be," says his mom, Concord resident Jennifer McKay-Weber.
And, it is a name now closely linked with demonstrating copious examples of human thoughtfulness.
The instantaneous rippling effect of an online call for people to reach out to help others on July 31 exceeded 1,500 responses -- all in the memory of this infant, who died on that day last year at age 4-1/2 months of complications from a rare children's liver disease, biliary atresia, affecting one in 15,000.
The day was filled with instances of kind consideration, both impromptu, and those gestures more painstakingly planned.
Backpacks were bought and filled with school supplies for foster youth; clothes and food were given to the homeless; children baked cookies for local firefighters and residents in nursing homes; someone bought bikes for a couple of kids in the neighborhood; another bought an elderly woman's groceries; and folks paid for others' coffee, or their dinner tab.
A friend in Sweden donated vaccines for children through UNICEF, while another sponsored a triathlete for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Noah's name.
Some reached out who also had lost a child.
"We knew it was going to be a really hard day. We tried
Her gestures of generosity that day were more concerted, first bringing freshly baked muffins to a fire station, before taking flowers to place at each graveside in a section of the cemetery for deceased children where her son is buried.
She then donated phone chargers for parents at Children's Hospital where her son had undergone surgery on June 8, 2011, to relieve the pressure from a brain hemorrhage, and then made her way to George Mark Children's House, where she and her family had spent the final 54 days of Noah's life.
They called the campaign that inspired such altruism the Noah's Kindness Project, after Weber had heard about a similar program launched in 1996 that has yielded such generous acts at least a million-fold.
"Sometimes you just need to hear your son's name. His legacy and short life are all we have," she says.
The Webers, Jennifer who graduated from Carondelet, and John, a De La Salle alum, already had a web presence; they launched a site -- FierceLittleWarrior.com, including a logo depicting a mockingbird -- before a walkathon they held at the Lafayette Reservoir in March, around Noah's first birthday.
The event took place on a drizzly day that still brought 200 people out to show their support for the George Mark Children's House, the first pediatric palliative care center in the United States, started in 2004.
The name of the website was inspired in the middle of a night after Weber had helped a nurse change her son's bandages for the first time.
"Here was this teeny tiny body with this massive scar. I saw how strong my son was and I said 'what's stronger than strong?' and I came up with fierce. He was my little warrior ... Noah changed the rules all along. He fought to stay alive as long as he could," she says, recalling how he opened his eyes on the Fourth of July, after being in a three-week coma.
Noah's courage is a source of ongoing strength.
"I don't want to get out of bed sometimes, but I refuse to disappear," she says. "If he could do it, I can do it."
Dr. Barbara Beach is a pediatric oncologist who cofounded and is the medical director of the San Leandro-based home for children with life-threatening illnesses, or are nearing end of life.
She witnessed firsthand the courage and dedication of the Webers as they faced Noah's imminent death and at the same time tended to the emotional needs of their daughter, Sofia, now 6.
"They had a few front and foremost desires: to minimize Noah's suffering, to have as much quality time as a family, and to make sure Sofia's experience was as emotionally healthy as possible," says Beach.
Sofia, described by both Beach and her mom as bright, inquisitive, insightful and perceptive, was fully aware of the graveness of her brother's condition.
"We allow her to grieve in her own way," says Weber, noting how art is an outlet.
Sofia's many drawings of Noah are now mounted to the walls of his nursery. She included him in a recent depiction of her family that she drew on her first day of school.
"We see a lot of loss, but also incredible resilience," says Beach. "The majority of the time, there's also healing ... and families are able to continue to flourish in spite of their loss and grieve in a healthy way."
The Webers have Noah's Kindness Project and the walkathon for the George Mark Children's House as annual goals as a means of such healing.
"I didn't think your heart could grow in the face of all that pain. I feel like I'm a more compassionate human being," Weber says. "I understand just how hard things can get."
For more information, visit www.fiercelittlewarrior.com