CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A photo with celebrity Justin Timberlake meant more to one Charlotte family than what’s pictured.
Rebecca and Michael Holt, parents of 5-year-old Charlie Holt who died in a bizarre accident at a rotating restaurant in Atlanta in 2017, say meeting JT revived a ray of their son’s sunny personality.
“Charlie loved Justin Timberlake’s 'Can’t Stop the Feeling’ song,” the Holts said. "He jammed out to it every time he heard it, whether it was on the radio, on the credits of the Trolls movie (which he asked me to play on repeat) or on TV. "
Described by preschool family as “a ray of sunshine,” Charlie was quite literally the sunshine in Timberlake’s pocket Tuesday night.
“JT did have the sunshine in his pocked when we met him after the show,” Michael Holt said. “We had given it to his team before the show.”
After Charlie’s sudden death, his schoolmates made little sunshines that read “Charlie” on the back. His parents keep a piece of the artwork with them.
“I’ve got that sunshine in my pocket. I’ve got that good soul in my feet," Rebecca Holt says, citing Timberlake’s song.
“The lyrics are so reflective of Charlie who was so happy and content just singing and dancing while sharing his light with the world,” Rebecca Holt said.
Through dealing with tragedy and heartbreak, the Holts found purpose: Helping families and children in need. That purpose was derived from Charlie, hence the Charlie Heart Foundation.
The foundation focuses on enhancing the lives of children and families in areas of need through sustainable living, financial and health education, the foundation website states.
The foundation’s intention is to love others, who will in turn share and multiply that love. The family’s story and unique connection to Timberlake traveled to the star fast.
Timberlake, who was in Charlotte for a performance at Spectrum Tuesday night, met up with the family.
“JT was awesome and listened to Rebecca and I talk about Charlie and the Foundation,” Michael Holt said.
The Holts say they also talked about families living in extreme poverty and stories of life and parenthood.
“Charlie no doubt was shining down on us #spreadsunshine,” the post read.
“Charlie Holt’s life ended abruptly after five short years. But his life was anything but small. It was the spark of a movement – a movement to heal hearts all over the world," the Holts say in their mission statement. "Join us in our mission to turn tragedy into triumph for children everywhere.”
Michael Holt says the goal of the foundation is to spread love like Charlie did and to help keep families together. Right now, the family says they are focusing on Ethiopia.