CHICAGO — WGN weatherman Mike Janssen shared an impressive weather photo to his Facebook page earlier this month, and it has since garnered attention for a surprising and heartwrenching reason.
Janssen shared an image from viewer Dustin Wright on April 1 showing a double rainbow near Herscher, Illinois. Impressive in and of itself, the photo proved to stand for much more.
In the first comment on Janssen’s post, a Facebook user, Carey Burnes, named it “Zayla’s [rainbow].”
A second commenter, Tracie Powell Martin, added, “Yes it her telling us she is OK & watching over us.”
It turned out the location of the double rainbow had some significance. As Janssen later explained on his Facebook page:
Zayla, is Zayla Mitsdarffer of Bonfield, IL. A 14-year-old freshman at Herscher High School who was first diagnosed with Leukemia when she was three. On March 30th, two days before the rainbow picture was taken, Zayla’s battle against cancer ended like far too many do.
Janssen went on to explain how Zayla inspired the community through her fight with cancer, and was featured in various roadside signs and local papers. Though the weatherman didn’t know the girl personally, he had gone to school with her father and was very familiar with her story.
As Janssen later found out in an exchange with the photographer, the rainbow had appeared right over Zayla’s house.
“What more can I say other than I too believe that really is Zayla’s rainbow,” wrote Janssen. “Thank you Zayla.”
Janssen’s various posts on the story have garnered hundreds of likes, shares and comments of support for a girl whose life ended much too early.
“She must have been a beautiful little girl, just look at her beautiful rainbow!” wrote Paula Schultz.
Wrote Brenda Davis, “Crying but yet so happy she had her own rainbow. Will always miss her wonderful smile and her cheerfulness.”
According to the Daily-Journal, Zayla’s family announced her death last Wednesday on Facebook.