Fundraising and the power of social media

Nephew of local dentist harnessing power of Facebook in his battle against chronic Lyme disease

The power of the internet is truly amazing.

It has revolutionized the way we interact and communicate with each other, especially with rise of social media and the phenomenon of content going viral.

I’m always surprised at what goes viral.

It could be something as silly as a Youtube video of a man named Leroy Jenkins playing a computer game while screaming as he charges in a group of enemies. 40 million views last I checked.

It could be something more serious, such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which recently lit up social media in the summer as people challenged each other to dump ice cold water on themselves to fundraise and raise awareness for ALS.

Viral campaigns are also a slick marketing tool.

Everyone likes to think that the famous selfie snapped by Ellen Degeneres and celebrity friends at the 2014 Academy Awards was a spur of the moment affair, but it later came out that it was part of a marketing ploy by Samsung.

It has since become the most retweeted tweet ever at 3,288,900, as of Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Not bad exposure for the South Korean tech giant.

Viral campaigns are great for raising awareness for various causes, but it’s also great for fundraising, as often the two go hand in hand.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a great example.

As of today, the ALS Association has pulled in over $100 million because of the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign.

At the same period last year, the ALSA had raised $2.8 million.

A Toronto-area man with a local connection is hoping to harness the power of that kind of internet fundraising with an online auction through social media.

Brad Clark, nephew of local dentist John Nesbitt, is utilizing Facebook to benefit from an online auction that is raising money for chronic Lyme disease treatments, which will be split between himself and another patient.

Clark is battling chronic Lyme disease, which causes lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain or joint and muscle pain.

The auction, titled ‘Online Fundraising Auction for Medical Treatments benefiting Christina and Brad’ starts on Oct. 1 at noon and end on Oct 2 at 8 p.m.

“People just log on and place bids on the products or items that we have and services, and bids will go up by increments of one dollar and all proceeds go to myself and Christina to help pay for treatments for Lyme disease and Fibromyalgia,” Clark said, in an interview from Toronto.

Clark said he’s spent thousands and thousands of dollars over 10 years to pay for treatments, which puts a strain on finances. An online auction seemed like a good idea to help offset those costs, he said.

“We’ve been looking for ways to creatively generate money to help pay for these treatments and the online auction just kind of made sense to all of us,” Clark said.

Nesbitt has donated dental services to the auction, such as dental bleaching, polish fluoride and scaling, all adding up to $700. Other people across Canada and the U.S. have jumped on the campaign, donating different products and services as well.

“There are all kinds of people who have donated amazing things, including a bed and breakfast in Seattle for two nights, valued at $480 I think, and even complete strangers who are donating stuff to us,” Clark said.

“The generosity has been really humbling, it’s been an amazing experience.”

Clark has been battling chronic Lyme disease for many years, but has recently found success with treatment at the Sofia Health Institute in Seattle. Clark was having difficulty finding effective treatment in Canada, but saw how effective the results were for another patient at the institute.

“I basically dropped everything I was doing at the time, because nothing was working, and made the trip [to Sofia Health Institute],” he said.

Treatment is once every four months, and he’s already been down for two sessions.

“They put you on many different supplements to support  the body to help it heal itself,” Clark said. “They also focus on helping the body to eliminate heavy metals and toxicity, so they focus on mercury, lead, aluminum detoxification and there are several supplications to aid that process.

“They’re finding that a lot of people who are chronically ill are polluted with these heavy metals.”

So far, treatment seems to be working, he added.

“I am now able to go for walks and dress myself and brush my teeth and do all the things that I think a lot of people take for granted,” Clark said, “but it was pretty scary there with my fatigue and weakness. It got pretty crippling.”

Once the auction is done, prize donors or the organizer, Mary Ellen Hamilton, will ship their item to the winner. Payment options are listed on the Facebook page, which can be found at this link: www.facebook.com/events/764980263544565/