When his childhood friend Adam Lanning had a sudden stroke earlier this year, local comedian Matt Wright, 25, knew he had to do something to help. The answer was simple: a standup comedy fundraiser at Yuk Yuk’s on Kenmount Road.
“It hit me that no matter how (Lanning’s condition) progressed, financial assistance would be needed,” Wright said. “I figured that if I was going to be there anyway and if there was a way that we can do this benefit for him and his family, we should.”
Wright was already booked to perform at Yuk Yuk’s with Canadian comedians Graham Chittenden and Chris Locke for the March 23-25 weekend.
It suddenly dawned on Wright that, if only for a single night, that weekend of shows could be transformed into a fundraiser to aid his friend.
It was just a matter of finding the right way to spread the message for an event that would become known as “Stand Up For Adam.” Social media was key, but the question remained of how best to employ it.
As far as promotion was concerned, finding the right tone was key.
Wright felt responsible to maintain a respectful distance for his friend.
“Adam and his family need their privacy,” Wright said. “We’re doing things the way Adam would want them. The last thing he would want is to be the face of this. He wouldn’t want to be a poster boy. He’d hate that.”
So, how do you reach people in a way that’s honest, but not melodramatic? It all started with a simple, hand-written note.
On Feb. 25, Wright had uploaded an image of a hand-written note as part of this charity event. That initial note listed only one date, March 23. Since then, an earlier show booked for March 21 is now also part of the “Stand Up For Adam” fundraiser.
Within 24 hours, the note had gone viral. Over 250 Facebook shares and Twitter retweets later, Wright saw that he had a successful event on his hands.
A second date, Thursday, March 21, was added shortly after the original event was posted on Facebook.
“Since I put up the original note, this has taken on a life of its own,” Wright said. “As Facebook got crazy, I started to hear from people who didn’t know him, or me for that matter, donating time and resources. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, for one. It’s mind-blowing how quickly it’s spread.”
The Canadian Heart And Stroke Foundation estimates that 6.7 of every 100,000 children under the age of 19 suffers from a stroke.
It’s an unexpected occurrence for a growing number of men and women thought to be too young to be affected by strokes.
For Wright, “Stand Up For Adam” is a chance to raise awareness about the possibility without becoming dour or depressed.
“The heart and stroke foundation is going to provide us with some info for younger people, letting them know that it can happen,” Wright said.
“Now, it’s not going to be overwhelming. This isn’t ‘come out and learn about strokes’, but if we’re going to reach this many people, we should offer them a chance to educate themselves on this. I’m more than happy to pass on that information.”
What was initially conceived as a fundraiser that family and friends would be primarily interested in has now ballooned to a near sold out event, much to Wright’s relief.
“Person after person just going out of their way to help someone else like this,” the stand-up comic said.
“I’m so grateful and a little blown away. Still, I know we’re doing the right thing here. At the end of the day, if we’re not going to be helping each other, then what are we doing?”
Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling the Yuk Yuk’s box office at 726-YUKS.
Donations are also being accepted via email transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org.