With a little help from her friends, and social media, Kat Toussaint mobilized more than 500 people for the candlelight vigil that celebrated the life of Robert E. Simon.
Simon, Reston’s founder, died on Sept. 21, 2015. He was 101.
“Something needed to be done, people were in pain, they needed to come together, and I sensed that,” she said.
The crowd four days later surrounded Lake Anne Plaza, and held candles that they let shine along the water by Simon’s condo building.
“I’m very grateful, very grateful that I wasn’t afraid to take it on. I’m a relatively new Restonian, I’ve been here for five years, maybe it wasn’t even my place, but it was just something that needed to be done and luckily everybody else thought so too.”
THE FOUNDER of Around Reston Publications teamed up with Chris Paolucci, co-founder of Reston-based Mediavolution Visual Strategies, to create a 10-minute film of the night.
“The emotion of people, catching that on video, that makes it another level of effective because you see the emotion, you see it in their eyes, their honesty and true heartfelt emotions and feelings about Bob Simon,” said Paolucci, of Herndon.
“It’s very much a news story. Get the cameras up and listen to what people say,” he said.
“They just started talking. I didn’t need to ask questions, the response was there, they needed that,” said Toussaint
“It was an emotional night. It was nice to be able to do that and pull that off so close after his passing because people were feeling emotional,” she said.
THEY PLAN to archive the video at the Reston Museum for future Restonians and others to see Simon’s deep impact on Reston and its people.
Paolucci said the issue making the video was cutting down the content to 10 minutes; he originally hoped to create a five-minute video.
“I had to cut off so much good stuff, too,” said Paolucci. “Editing that kind of content is why I got into video in the first place. I like telling people’s stories and Bob Simon’s story is so incredible.”
Paolucci has tracked the data; people have watched in California, Florida, Washington and Louisiana. People also watch the entire video, he said.
“Ten minutes. Nobody watches video for ten minutes, after two minutes you lose them, that’s our normal length,” said Paolucci. “I had so much to edit, I had three hours of information, my first draft was 35 minutes.”
He hopes people want to take the video and put it on their websites.
“I’d like for anybody who wants to tell his story to spread it around, spread the good word,” he said.
“It wasn’t the community leaders, it’s us, right here, not many people do that kind of video. This is grassroots, people in the community sharing their emotions shortly after Bob’s passing.”
That night, pastor Tim Ward of Restoration Church told the community that “we will light the candles to remind of Bob’s bright light, to remind us of the impact he had had on us.”
“He was just inspiration for so many of us over the years. He developed a true community, it’s very cohesive community and he created that for us,” Toussaint said.