Recently I posted about the popularity of selfies and how they are being used increasingly to raise awareness of certain organisations. There was an English teen who, through the power of the selfie and social media, raised over £4 million for a teenage cancer charity. His name was Stephen Sutton.
Stephen was born in 1994. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer when he was 15 years old and he passed away in May 2014 after battling the disease for four years. Shortly after his diagnosis he set up his own website, Stephen's Story http://stephensstory.co.uk/, which he said was meant to "spread my motivation and positivity". On his blog he included a bucket list of things he wished to achieve in his life. These ranged from small things, such as to go busking, to larger things including skydiving. At the time of his death he had been able to cross a large number of things off his bucket list. However his primary focus became fundraising, with an aim of raising £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust.
His fundraising efforts brought people together who wanted to help him achieve his goal. Through various different events he raised a large amount of money. It was however the #thumbsupforstephen social media trend that pushed the money raised into the millions! After becoming very ill, Stephen posted a selfie in which he was smiling and giving a thumbs up as a thank you to his supporters. Instantly people across the entire social media world, including celebrities, were posting their own thumbs up selfies, whilst promoting Stephen's fundraising efforts. The total figure raised shot to over £3 million and is now at over £4 million!
I think Stephen's story really resonated with people as, despite his hardships, he remained positive and focussed on helping others. Despite having an illness he knew he would never recover from he made the most of the time he had left, putting others ahead of himself by dedicating his time to raising money to support other teenage cancer sufferers. Thousands of people across the UK supported his fundraising efforts, smiled at his great attitude and mourned when he died. On the day of his funeral his supporters took to social media once more to post thumbs up selfies in his honour. It is wonderful how much good Stephen did through his social media presence. Not only did he raise a phenomenal amount of money for the UK charity, Teenage Cancer Trust, he inspired many with his fantastic story.