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‚Äôs on Kenmount Road.
‚ÄúIt hit me that no matter how (Lanning‚Äôs condition) progressed, financial assistance would be needed,‚ÄĚ Wright said. ‚ÄúI 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.‚ÄĚ
Wright was already booked to perform at Yuk Yuk‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄúStand Up For Adam.‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúAdam and his family need their privacy,‚ÄĚ Wright said. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre doing things the way Adam would want them. The last thing he would want is to be the face of this. He wouldn‚Äôt want to be a poster boy. He‚Äôd hate that.‚ÄĚ
So, how do you reach people in a way that‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄúStand Up For Adam‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúSince I put up the original note, this has taken on a life of its own,‚ÄĚ Wright said. ‚ÄúAs Facebook got crazy, I started to hear from people who didn‚Äôt know him, or me for that matter, donating time and resources. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, for one. It‚Äôs mind-blowing how quickly it‚Äôs spread.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs an unexpected occurrence for a growing number of men and women thought to be too young to be affected by strokes.
For Wright, ‚ÄúStand Up For Adam‚ÄĚ is a chance to raise awareness about the possibility without becoming dour or depressed.
‚ÄúThe heart and stroke foundation is going to provide us with some info for younger people, letting them know that it can happen,‚ÄĚ Wright said.
‚ÄúNow, it‚Äôs not going to be overwhelming. This isn‚Äôt ‚Äėcome out and learn about strokes‚Äô, but if we‚Äôre going to reach this many people, we should offer them a chance to educate themselves on this. I‚Äôm more than happy to pass on that information.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs relief.
‚ÄúPerson after person just going out of their way to help someone else like this,‚ÄĚ the stand-up comic said.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm so grateful and a little blown away. Still, I know we‚Äôre doing the right thing here. At the end of the day, if we‚Äôre not going to be helping each other, then what are we doing?‚ÄĚ
Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling the Yuk Yuk‚Äôs box office at 726-YUKS.
Donations are also being accepted via email transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org.