Can Twitter Cure Cancer?

twitter_logoDrew Olanoff is a close friend of mine. We met last year during my boss’ Gnomedex conference in Seattle, and clicked immediately. We share a love of people and technology, and have the same weird sense of humor. We’ve stayed in close contact via email/IM/phone over the past several months, solidifying and strengthening our friendship.

When Drew learned that he has Hodgkins Lymphoma back in May, he was ticked off. Me… I cried. I was terrified that I would lose my friend. I wanted to know what I could do to help. Little did I know that I would soon be able to help in a very big way.

Drew approached his cancer and its treatment with his usual twisted sense of humor. He started blaming things on his cancer. If he couldn’t find his keys, he blamed the cancer. If his beloved Phillies lost a game, the cancer was at fault. It struck him one day that maybe – just maybe – he could do something with all of this blaming. Thus, Blame Drew’s Cancer was born. He started tweeting using the hashtag #blamedrewscancer, and it caught on like wildfire. To date, more than 14,000 people have blamed over 40,000 things on his cancer… including people such as Alyssa Milano, Drew Carey, Lance Armstrong and even Bon Jovi!

As if this were not enough, Drew began doing fundraisers, and entering into a partnership with the Livestrong Foundation. I watched from the sidelines in awe as he was interviewed on television, and while people from all over the country begged him to speak at their event. I was proud as heck to introduce him during Gnomedex this year, and cried openly during his presentation.

As if blaming things weren’t enough, Drew came up with yet another idea to raise money for Livestrong. He is an early adopter, and was actually one of the first people to sign up for Twitter. Thus, he holds the coveted name of simply Drew on there. He noticed recently that people like Drew Carey and other “famous” Drew’s were using Twitter. “My” Drew thought to himself “hmm, I wonder….”. He threw out a Tweet, stating that any Drew who wanted to buy his username could bid a minimum of $10,000.00 prior to November 9th. He did this with the blessing of the Twitter creators, by the way.

Drew Carey was listening. He was overjoyed that his soccer team had won an important game when he read the tweet, and he threw down a starting bid of $25,000.00!!! Within minutes, he had upped the ante. He then decided that if he reached 100,000 Twitter followers prior to the November 9th cutoff, he would then donate $100,000.00 to Livestrong!!!

But Mr. Carey didn’t stop there, either! He has announced now that if he reaches 1 million followers by midnight on New Year’s Eve, he will donate a cool one million dollars to the Livestrong Foundation. If he doesn’t hit 1 million, the donation amount will be pro-rate to match the number of actual followers. Thus, if he has 900,000 followers… Lance’s beloved foundation will receive $900,000.00.

Simply… amazing. I am so proud of Drew Olanoff that I cannot describe it with words. I am proud of Mr. Carey, even though I don’t know him personally.

How can you help? It’s simple. Your Twitter follow is worth one dollar. That may not sound like much, but those dollars are adding up fast. All you have to do is to follow Drew Carey on Twitter. If you never do anything else on that site, I beg you to go sign up for free (it only takes two minutes), head to Drew’s page, and click on that little “follow” button at the top.

We’ve all been touched by cancer in some way. If you haven’t had it yourself, you know someone who does – or did. It’s time we stop whispering about cancer. It’s time we stand up and shout at the top of our lungs. It’s time that we make things happen. To quote my buddy Drew, it’s time we kick cancer’s butt into oblivion.