Heelllooo. Hello. hello.
Imagine the world of social media as a vast canyon.
Heeeelllloooo. Heellllooo. Hello.
Imagine that the canyon getting bigger everyday.
Twitter has over half a billion users and increases by 130,000 users EVERYDAY!
Facebook has a whopping 1.15 billion users.
But in the vastness of the canyon, sometimes the right connection is made at just the right time!
I'll start this story of by saying before last Friday, neither Ellen or I had much of a connection to either Alisha Glass or the US National Volleyball team. The closest we come was exchanging smiles at the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association's yearly clinic held at Penn State. Five feet. Three years ago? We had watched Alisha win National titles on TV, even made the drive up to State College for big matches. For a University of Pittsburgh alum, Ellen really enjoys the campus!
As for the National Team, we were honored to have Christa Harmotto at last years Jam the Gym.
She signed every autograph and sat on our bench during our match, passing out great tips to the players as they subbed in and out of the game. What a tremendous ambassador for volleyball.
Oh and Ellen once played against the National Team! Pitt played a match against them at Farrell High School, maybe 1981? Debbie Green, Flo Hyman, and Rita Crockett. Rita was hitting balls off the floor and into the rafters! Suffice it to say it was a short night for Team USA. I think Pitt managed maybe six points all evening!
But that is as much connection as there ever was...
In the days going into Ellen's current treatment, there has been a sense of dread. As good as she is doing with this, it does wear on her both physically and mentally. It is thought that as this regimen goes forward, the effects will accumulate, and become more difficult with each treatment. The time between the fourth and fifth was hard. The sensitivity to cold in her hands and mouth lingered a little longer. The dryness in her mouth and hands got worse, so much so that her lips cracked and bled. Five or six days of this, she starts to heal up, only to have the dread of the next one coming.
By Monday last week, I could tell this was more than just dread. The process had her worn down. The prospect of High School volleyball starting and her not being able to fully participate was bothering her. Tuesday it got worse. Wednesday is treatment day. She gets to the Hillman Center at about 9am gets back home at 4pm. They send home a 36 hour dose of 5FU that runs on a pump she stays connected to until Friday afternoon. She sleeps 12, maybe 13 hours in the days after treatment. Then the side effects kick in again.
Friday morning I woke up for work. I have a habit of checking this blog, seeing who is viewing, where they are and what they've read. I also check my twitter accounts. Our Jam the Gym event is fast approaching, and as Twitter users know, Friday is #FF day. A day where users try to increase "followers". I have a few friends that faithfully tag me in their #FF's. With Jam the Gym being before the start of school, it is important to use this medium to carry information out to those who might potentially attend. An idea was hatched. A #FF contest! Challenge followers to get @JamtheGym 50 new followers by midnight. Using the popular event tee shirt as a carrot! The new follower with the most followers wins! Brilliant!
I sent out the challenge at around 8:30 am. By 2pm we neared the goal, but things stagnated, so I added another tee shirt to the furthest new follower and the 200th follower. For a while, the furthest follower was Pro Poker Star @berkey11. Matt Berkey(he loves volleyball) lives in Las Vegas, and is a former student of Ellen's. Then a young lad from the UK took the spot, @N_Neasch. It looked like that might be where it ended. But it didn't...
At around 4pm I had an idea that it would be cool to get the "most famous" follower as well. Let these kids (most of the Jam the Gym followers are former or current players or students at Kiski and Leechburg) try and entice famous people to join us. Our most famous follow, before Friday was one of the "Dance Mom" people. It's not that we hadn't tried. The kids attempts to get #EllenonEllen had been epic. Probably THOUSANDS of tweets with that hashtag to @TheEllenShow with no reponse...
What was it that lead me to reach out to @AGlass6? Not sure. Maybe it was that smile three plus years before, I don't know but here is the tweet that started the whole thing...
@AGlass6 became our most "famous" follower, and has a tee shirt coming. But she didn't stop there. While I had her attention, knowing that Ellen's spirits were down I ask her for one little favor that she took to the max...
That wasn't the end either! After reading our story, and sharing it with her National Team team mates, it was decided that Coach Ellen Toy would become the honorary coach during the team's BIG match with Serbia! After a flurry of activity to set everything up, Ellen and I spent the afternoon Sunday enjoying a terrific volleyball match, with her live tweeting comments as "Coach". It was by far the best Sunday after a treatment we have had so far! So much so that Sunday night we went for a walk, and she ask to do it. Another Sunday first!
So what started out as a #FF ended up with a LOT of people more familiar with our story, a story so vast, so compelling that it moved The United States National Volleyball team to action.
God Bless every one of you, you made the space between treatments so much better. All because of.
One incredible memory.
Thanks and best of luck in Japan!!!