In 2013, I was able to write about the extraordinary Fran Swenson – Fran Serenade in Second Life – a Parkinson’s Disease sufferer who at the time had seen – and continued to see – something of an overall improvement in her condition, which she attributed to Second Life.
Fran’s story, which was reported in the likes of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Wired and came to be the focus of and one of the earliest editions of The Drax Files World Makers, was the trigger-point for her daughter, Barbara, establishing Creations for Parkinson’s in Second Life, designed to raise money for research into the disease and for a possible cure by supported the work of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and providing a meeting place for those stricken by the illness and those seeking a sense of community and support. Fran’s response to her condition and Second Life was also the subject of study by Donna Z. Davis (Tredi Felisimo in SL) and Tom Boellstorff (Tom Bukowski in SL).
The avatar represents who I really feel inside. When I look at my avatar, I feel like I’m looking at myself … I’m dancing now and I can run, hop, jump and have fun. I’m not just in my apartment, I have the whole world now. It’s thrilling!
– Fran Swenson (Fran Serenade in SL) on the joy and
freedom Second Life gave her
I met Fran, and her daughter Barbara, on a number of occasions in Second Life in 2013 and 2014, although sadly, I allowed contact with them both to drift over the years since. Throughout those meetings, I was always stunned by Fran’s energy; she always exuded happiness and a sense of fun that was infectious. It is therefore with enormous regret – and following word sent by Draxtor Despres – that Fran sadly passed away at the age of 92 on March 3rd. With her passing, a genuine, warm and caring light has gone from Second Life and we have lost a true pioneer.
Fran was an earth angel whose extraordinary love touched all who met her. From her earliest days, it was her lifelong mission to help people wherever she saw a need. Mom always said, “Love is unlimited. The more you give, the more love there is to give.”
– Fran’s daughter, Barbara Richards (Barbi Alchemi in SL),
remembering her mother
An in-world memorial for Fran is being planned, but will understandably take time to arrange – I hope to help spread the word for all who may wish to attend once the date and time have been confirmed. If you would like to make a physical world donation in Fran’s names to help further the work of The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, please use the link below, where you will also find a memorial to her.
To Barbara (Barbi Alchemi in Second Life) her brother (AlmostThere in SL) and their family, to all who knew Fran as a friend and an active members of the Creation’s community, I extended my condolences at this time – as I’m sure all who knew Fran and her story do as well.