I love Facebook (probably more than most), but I hate those status updates that ask you to copy and paste them to prove that you’re a true friend, that you love your mum/children or that you support people with one of any number of illnesses. They’re generally cloyingly annoying. Then there are those that are almost certainly not genuine – Facebook are going to start charging you! I can see who’s viewing my profile! Re-post this and help a child with cancer!
When I see a post like that I always check out the facts because whilst I may be sceptical clearly others are not and these updates spread like a pustulant rash across my home page. At the end of last week I saw yet another one of these updates asking me to share it with my friends. There were enough details to feel real – even an address – but I couldn’t see how anyone could actually want such a thing shared. The original status was as follows:
“Hi everyone : I was just hoping I could get your help with something. Some friends of a friend have found out that their 4 year old son, Charlie, is suffering from a terminal brain tumour, and has only a few months to live. The family’s top priority is to make Charlie’s last days as memorable as possible. One of the things Charlie absolutely loves is receiving post, and he always rushes out to collect the post each morning. As such, his parents have started a postcard campaign, and are asking as many people as possible to send a postcard to Charlie, with just a simple, cheerful message on it. (Please do not mention his illness or include get well wishes.) If you are able to do this, it would really make a difference for Charlie and would be a great help and support for his parents during this difficult time. Any postcards should be sent to
C/O Manor Farmhouse,
Thank you very much. I’m really hoping this request will mean there are a few more postcards arriving at Charlie’s door x a friend had this posted on her wall,take a moment and make a little boy smile for just a little while x PLZ REPOST ON YOUR OWN WALLS LETS GET AS MANY POSTCARDS SENT AS POSSIBLE MANY THANKS”
I was, of course, moved by little Charlie and his family’s plight, but I couldn’t see how asking Facebook could help – surely you could potentially open yourself up to hundreds of postcards innundating you, which wouldn’t be as much fun as a handful of letters from people he knew. I thought that it was a hoax – perhaps someone trying to maliciously hinder someone’s business by swamping them with mail. Or maybe just someone who likes to play with people’s emotions. A quick Google check confirmed the address was genuine and also led me to an email address. After pausing to think about whether it was appropriate to contact them, I forwarded the status I’d seen and explained that if it wasn’t a hoax that I was thinking of their family at this difficult time, that I was happy to share it further and would make sure to pop a postcard in the post as soon as possible.
I got a speedy response from Zoe who, sadly, confirmed that little Charlie was indeed very ill, but that their request was never meant to end up on Facebook and shared amongst its 800 million active users worldwide. Zoe told me that they shared the same sentiments as me – that “whilst we understand the goodwill intentions, you can imagine that the postcards are not going to be thousands but could escalate and make what was a very “lifting” thing to do more of an overwhelming nightmare.”
Charlie has already received lots of lovely messages and cards from all around the world which he charts on his world map but they are asking people to stop passing the message on. She told me that they are now asking people to stop passing the message on and, instead, to write on their walls that they are very grateful and overwhelmed by the kindess that has been shown to little Charlie but that he has now reached his target and doesn’t require any more.
We continued a short conversation and she mentioned that Charlie has now decided that he is starting a wall of fame as he has had a few celebrities send autographed photos and what Charlie wants they shall endeavour to get for him. Did I know any celebrities that would be willing to help…?
Sadly, I don’t lead an exotic A-list lifestyle (or, frankly, a Z-list lifestyle) but some friends and I organised a charity ball last year, raising funds for Malcolm Sargent House (part of the CLIC Sargent children’s cancer charity) and so I got in touch with our compère, Gina McKie of Clyde 1 FM, to ask her for help. She was very quick to show her support of little Charlie, promising to send a photo and giving suggestions of people to get in touch with, but ultimately it comes down to spreading the word and asking the celebrities directly.
As I’ve exhausted my celebrity phonebook, I’m passing the baton on to you. Do you know anyone who knows anyone who could help this little boy? I hope so, because time is of the essence. Charlie’s cancer was diagnosed at the end of March but they feel he is going downhill fast and understandably want to make the most of their time together. My son is also four years old and I know that there but for the grace of God, go I. I ask myself if I was in their position – if I ever find myself in their position – what would I do? What would I want other people to do? And I act accordingly.
Whether you can help Charlie or not, if doing a simple thing like sending an uplifting card to a child in need is something you’d like to do then I recommend that you check out Post Pals where there are lots of children hoping you’ll do exactly that.
To Charlie and his family, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.