Thursday, March 10, 2011

Believe

This incident happened last week to a colleague of mine based in the US. Reproducing it from the text of her email. Will urge you to read till the end and share the story with as many people as you can. One of the most incredible stories you will come across in a long time.


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I have a very special story to tell you.  
As some of you already know, I lost one of my closest friends last week. Just 2 weeks shy of her 32nd birthday my friend Allie Greene lost her 2 year battle with colon cancer.  
Allie was an incredible woman who inspired everyone around her with her courage.  After being diagnosed she took on a new mantra, BELIEVE.  She truly believed in herself that she would get better, that she would conquer this disease and eventually become cancer free.  For 2 years she approached her life and her fight with more gusto and spirit as most healthy people don't even muster, myself included.  One week ago, she lost her fight and said goodbye to her husband and 3 year old daughter Riley.  
Allie had spoken to us often about the unforgettable party she was going to throw when she was cancer free.  There was this fantastic great big red barn that Allie had spotted.  She pictured herself there celebrating and dancing and singing to her favorite country music star Brad Paisley.  
 When it came time to sit down and make the funeral arrangements Brian knew just what to do. We set in motion a Celebration of Allie's Life.  We had a list going of all the things we needed, flowers, caterers, etc.  And at the end of the list Brian said to my husband Jason and I. "Oh and try to see if you can get Brad Paisley there, with a wink.  Now for those of you who don't follow country music, that was the equivalent of him asking us to get JayZ, Beyonce, Alicia Keyes or Justin Timberlake. 
Well my sister in law and I decided to take that ball and run with it. For weeks we had felt hopeless and kept asking ourselves what can we do? How we help Allie?  Finally we were given a task, something to keep us busy. Something to keep us from thinking about our incredible loss.  We started putting together a video. We combed through the hundreds of pictures we had of Allie and her life.  We naturally picked a Brad Paisley song, and at the end of the day we had posted a tribute video of our friend Allie up on YouTube.
In all fairness this is not something we would normally d.  This should be evident by the amature video and poor sound quality, but we were under a time crunch.  I caught myself a couple of times creating this saying, there's no way he's gonna see this.  But then I thought about Allie and her mantra. BELIEVE.  We proceeded to post it on Facebook and Twitter. We really just hoped her friends and family would see it. 






I have never UNDERESTIMATED the power of YouTube and Social Media more than on that day. 
Within 24 hours of posting that video we had over 3,000 views and a phone call to my friend Brian from Brad Paisley himself! We were ecstatic!  Brad spoke Brian for 30 minutes and just asked him all about Allie and the person she was.  He said he had seen the video on YouTube (through Twitter) within 4 hours of when we posted it.  Over the next few days he was bombarded on his Facebook page, his publicist's email account and his manager's voicemail.  He even received it from one of his friends, Sheryl Crow! We were amazed that he would take time out to call Brian and just let him talk. A complete stranger.
Yesterday was Allie's funeral. A gut wrenching day filled with sadness and loss. A day that could have and should have been just awful.  Would you BELIEVE me if I told you it was one of the most uplifting days I have ever had?  
Brad Paisley showed up. Brad and his wife came to the Big Red barn and helped us celebrate the life of Allie, this special person, woman, mother, wife and friend. He payes for about a half an hour and made a new friend in Brian and a whole barn full of BELIEVERS.






I have never seen so many smiles at a funeral.  Grown adults in awe and mesmerized by what was transpiring before their eyes. I got to meet Brad and his wife and all I could think to say was thank you. Thank you for restoring my faith in people.  Which he quickly and humbly brushed aside as something anyone would do.


As a Googler I was so excited to share this story with you all for so many reasons, and here they are.
I have never been more proud of YouTube and am amazed by what 1 video can do.  Over 10,300 hits to date.

Social is not abstract. It is tangible. It is monumentally personal and affects how we live our lives.
Try to guess how much of this was done via mobile device - including Brad's first glimpse?  
There are still good people out there, as is proof by everyone who forwarded the video, all the way to my new idol Brad Paisley.
I will ALWAYS BELIEVE.
Thank you for reading this. Please pass it on if you like. I hope more people can hear Allie's story. If you'd like to read more about Allie please check out teamallie.com




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