When I was growing up, there was no such thing as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even cell phones! However, today, children are introduced to social media at a very early age, some may even begin creating a digital footprint of their lives before they are out of the womb (have any of your friends announced their impending arrival with an ultrasound photo?). I have no idea how social media will evolve in the next 10, 20, 30 years, and while some of its evolution may be invasive, I know that social media also has the ability to create positive outcomes, including changing lives, contributing to causes, and hopefully even helping to find cures for all kids with cancer.
In the News, the story of young Josh Hardy, a childhood cancer fighter who was in critical condition, desperately needing an experimental antiviral drug. The drug company denied Josh compassionate use of the drug, and the social media campaign #SaveJosh was born. It wasn’t long before the story took off; landing on social media as well as major media outlets including CNN. After the media barrage, the drug company relented, and now the boy who was once hovering near death is improving every day and taking strides to return to his life as a 7-year-old. We can’t wait to hear about Josh’s escapades as he returns to school, heads to the movies, or takes in a baseball game!
If you didn’t hear the story of Josh Hardy – does the moniker BatKid ring a bell? Batkid is the superhero nickname given to 5-year-old Miles Scott, a childhood cancer survivor. In remission from leukemia, Miles shares a common childhood love for comic book super heroes, and when asked what his Make-A-Wish dream would be, he wanted to be Batkid, a sidekick to Batman. His wish was granted and the call went out over social media for volunteers to help. The local Make-A-Wish chapter had hoped to garner a few hundred volunteers, but instead the request spread like wildfire and an estimated 10,000-12,000 people helped to cheer on Batkid in his mission to protect ‘Gotham City’. Not only did Josh get his chance to save San Francisco (aka Gotham City), but he did so in epic fashion. His day was followed by national news outlets and over 400,000 tweets were sent that day utilizing the hashtag #SFBatKid. What better use of social media than to provide a deserving child with the best day of his life?
Ok, so you’re not into superheroes, but do you know what Black Friday is? Cyber Monday? How about #GivingTuesday? We are all familiar with the shopping blitz that takes place in the days after Thanksgiving, when the only thing working off that Thanksgiving meal is our wallets! It’s during these few days that many retail stores get back into the “black,” but for the past several years the social media community has been encouraging people everywhere to give back to their favorite causes on #GivingTuesday. Statistics are showing that more than $10 million in donations were made during #GivingTuesday’s inaugural year – now that’s something to celebrate! With #GivingTuesday gaining steam each and every year, we are confident that it will not only provide shoppers everywhere with a little less guilt over their purchases from the days prior, but will also make a tangible differences for many worthy causes.
With all of these wonderful examples, we are thrilled that our corporate partner Toys”R”Us today launched a social campaign for their ALSF fundraising efforts in 2014. In fact, they were among the first of our corporate partners to create a social campaign last year when they introduced the #LemonSmiles Challenge (among the participants – Kathie Lee and Hoda!). This year, Toys”R”Us will ask Alex’s Lemonade Stand supporters to join the fight against childhood cancer through the company’s #Stir4ACure initiative. Kids and families can help #Stir4ACure by visiting Toysrus.com/AlexsLemonade, where they’ll find a print-out pledge on which they can write who or what they stir for – whether it’s hope, a brother, sister, friend or neighbor who is battling cancer, then share their sign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #Stir4ACure. We can’t wait to see the response they receive and, hopefully, we can live up to much of the social media success that has come before us, creating a viral movement to raise more awareness and funds for cures for all kids with cancer.
So, we’ll end this by including some photos of who we stir for, and challenge you to join us in doing the same this year! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #Stir4ACure!