Mark Renders/Getty Images
Paul Walker would have been 42 today.
But while the loss is still palpable following his death in a car crash in 2013, when he was only 40, his family, friends and fans continue to do their best to keep the actor-activist alive in their hearts and make sure that they carry on the good work that was so important to him.
"We're going to keep it low-key for Paul's birthday," brother Cody Walker, who did stand-in work for Furious 7 after Paul died and is on the big screen next in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, tells E! News. "Hang out with the family and close friends, hopefully at the beach. Paul was a low-key kind of guy and loved the ocean, so it's pretty fitting."
Also pretty fitting—the tribute that kicked off, literally, at dawn.
For the second year in a row, fans around the world are posting pictures of the sunrise (and, at day's end, they'll post the sunset) in honor of Paul. About 3,000 photos were shared from 90 countries and every continent last year, according to friend Jesse Brisendine, who deemed it International Sunrise and Sunset Around the World Day.
"They are symbols of new life that continues to go on," Brisendine told us, recalling how he went to watch the sunrise in Santa Barbara, Calif., the morning after Paul died in a car crash.
2014 International Sunrise and Sunset Around the World Day
In case you missed #InternationalSunriseAndSunsetDay last year, here is the video.I hope this video #Inspires you to participate this year.The event happens this Saturday, September 12th. For all the info about the event, click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1662434723974618/To donate use this link: https://donate.roww.org/fundraise?fcid=339063Looking forward to celebrating Paul Walker birthday and raising some money for Reach Out WorldWide with you.#CarpeDiem,Jesse #InternationalSunriseAndSunsetAroundTheWorldDay #HappyBirthdayPW #OneMillionForROWW #DonateToROWW #HappyBirthdayPaulWalkerPosted by Jesse Brisendine's 1 Year 1000 Challenge on Wednesday, September 9, 2015
"It was such a beautiful sunrise that day," the 30-year-old life coach said. "It was one of those mornings that were so still. Birds and people were starting to wake up and I was thinking how life was standing still for me and I was watching it still move on and continue to turn, and this meant to me a symbol of life that keeps going forward and continues."
The goal is to not only remember Paul but raise awareness and funds for the late actor's disaster relief organization, Reach Out World Wide (ROWW), which Brisendine helped start. ROWW helps get emergency aid workers to disaster sites, providing medical aide, food, shelter, clothing—"whatever the need is," he said.
ROWW is also launching new commemorative merchandise sporting the slogan "For Paul" and specially designed in time for his birthday this year. So far they've brought in more than $50,000, but they're hoping to reach the $1 million mark.
"We've never had a merchandise item with an image of Paul. The photo used is of him while on ROWW's founding deployment in Haiti, before ROWW was even ROWW, really," Cody's wife, Felicia Walker (the newlyweds tied the knot in August) told E! News. "In addition to the obvious good that ROWW does around the world, what we do here is also and will always be 'For Paul.' He would be proud and honored to know that what he created is continuing on to help those who need it most."
On Saturday, the group honored Paul with a special tribute video, posted on Facebook.
And this whole weekend will be a tribute to the man Brisendine describes as a "normal dude" who had a genuine passion to help and inspire people.
"Paul was always someone who wanted to help people," he recalled. "When the tsunami struck in Sri Lanka [in 2004], he felt so awful and wanted to do something. [Starting ROWW] gave him a lot of joy."
They were together on a disaster relief trip to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
"I will never forget this. It was around 10:30 p.m. at night and the Haitian people, if they had anything, had a trash bag with everything they could salvage," Brisendine remembered. "Their homes had been destroyed. These people were so grateful to have clothes, food, a campfire that they began celebrating life and singing. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen."
He continued, "We were standing there. I remember looking at Paul. He was smiling and allowing himself to have a moment to appreciate what ROWW could do. The value now is he really got to see something he believed in so passionately play out and make a difference in people's lives."
The social media tribute to Paul is also very personal to him.
"For me, selfishly, I feel very close to him, getting close to his birthday, and it allows me to be closer to him," Brisendine told us. "Last year to see the world celebrating him in a way Paul would have appreciated was really special. He is still such a huge part of my life and it is so important for me to share who he really is, separate from who he was for his job."
Brisendine said he likely won't getting much sleep until Monday because he doesn't want to miss any of the celebration. He will also spend much of his time downloading the photos to make a video tribute.
"He wasn't perfect but he was a good person that deeply believed people were innately good," Brisendine added. "Once he said when you put your good will out there it is amazing what you can accomplish. It is such a beautiful legacy to have and it is important to me for people to think of Paul Walker as someone who inspires others to put their own good will out there in their lives, or strangers or whoever out there."
Off-camera, Paul had "huge depth to him and was very smart and thoughtful," he added.
"We would get in these philosophical conversations about the symbolism and beauty of sunrises and sunsets and how it was God's painting or the amazing force of mother nature on display. No matter how busy the world would get, we could both stop and appreciate it was going on."