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American Giving Awards: Spinal Muscular Atrophy on NBC!

December 09, 2012 by Victoria Strong
American Giving Awards: Spinal Muscular Atrophy on NBC!

By now NBC has aired the 2012 American Giving Awards and you probably know the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation did not win a grant from Chase. But as we see it, SMA has already won! For the first time, Spinal Muscular Atrophy was highlighted to millions on national television alongside other worthy causes: Poverty, Illiteracy, Autism... And that, my friends, is powerful! SMA was alongside them because SMA matters too!

The value of having the words "Spinal Muscular Atrophy" in national media is enormous for a disease so few have heard of. With 1 in every 40 people carrying the SMA gene, SMA should be known and we have always believed that reaching new people is key to creating change! Even before the American Giving Awards aired Saturday night nationwide on NBC, this was already accomplished. During the week of voting, and because of countless efforts, new people learned about the #1 genetic killer of young children. For example:

  • We reached over 1.4 million unique people through our Facebook page activity with our campaign, had nearly 6,000 post likes, 400 post coments, and 2,500 post shares, and our page "Likes" increased 15%
  • Comedian Dennis Miller posted about SMA and the GSF on Facebook to his 220,000+ followers three times -- collectively receiving 3,168 post likes, 1,215 post comments, and 360 post shares
  • Las Vegas' 98.5 KLUC's #1 morning DJ Chet Buchanen of the Morning Zoo mentioned the GSF on air and went on to explain SMA -- Las Vegas has a population of nearly 2 million people
  • Director Greg Yaitanes and the actors on Psych tweeted about SMA to a collective 500,000 followers (if just 5% of them looked at their tweets -- that is 25,000 people!)
  • Flyers were passed out to dozens of schools, churches, gyms, and community organizations
  • Our American Giving Awards video was viewed the 2nd most of all 25 of the charity videos
  • And on Saturday night, during the American Giving Awards show which had 1.6 Million viewers, the GSF website had a 300% increase in unique visits

The entire American Giving Awards experience still feels a bit surreal. Three years ago we started the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation as a way to do something positive in a devastating situation. At that point we formalized our immediate post-SMA-diagnosis belief that the #1 genetic killer of young children simply could no longer remain widely unknown. But...we are just two people in a house doing our best while also giving Gwendolyn the life she deserves and demands. Although we're extremely proud of what we've accomplished, never did we imagine that in such a short time our work would be acknowledged on a national forum like the American Giving Awards on NBC. To say we are exhilarated for the SMA cause to receive a platform it so, so, so deserves is putting it mildly. 

We were in Los Angeles for five days busy with American Giving Awards activities and Chase hosted lunches, meetings, and dinners for all the nominated charities. Meeting the founders and executive directors of the other 24 inspiring charities was a rewarding experience. All of them are filled with passion to make a difference in this world and for that reason alone we immediately connected. They were humble, kind, collaborative, and are working very hard to create change. We learned something from each of them and look forward to continuing to encourage one another's progress.

The American Giving Awards and all of the events leading up to it was managed by hundreds of employees at Chase and Dick Clark Productions and we were continually blown away by how many of them went out of their way to meet us and let us know they believe in what we are doing, that they follow our blog, that they are moved by the SMA cause, or have been rooting for us since our first Chase Community Giving win in 2009. They were all well versed in our story and had thoughtful and deeper questions about SMA than the surface observer. None of them are impacted by SMA -- but they now care about the SMA cause and we were so touched by their sincerity!

As for Gwendolyn, she loved every single minute. She adored dressing up fancy, she had a blast watching the music performances, and this girl loved being in the spotlight! In fact, the only time she shed tears was between press interviews, waiting to go on the red carpet, and then wanting to go back on the red carpet after we were through. We assumed she was tired (it was a long day and several late nights in a row) but the second she hit the red (or in this case blue) carpet, she was all bright eyes, tapping, waving, and posing. Just like all of these very special SMA children, it seems she was born to sparkle!

We are so very grateful to Chase for this opportunity! We are uplifted that NBC dedicates a show to charitable work. We are beyond thrilled SMA was highlighted! And we are so, so grateful for YOU and your continued support for everything we do.

We will NEVER GIVE UP. and because of all of YOU we will keep working away to broaden SMA exposure. We plan to expand our iPad grant program, Project Mariposa, improve Say Hi! AAC and create additional iPad applications to make lives easier for those living with this disease. We will persevere with legislators to keep SMA on the forefront in Washington DC. And we will continue funding research to help end SMA forever. And YOU can be part of it! Get involved. Host a fundraiser. Become an official sponsor. Join Team GSF. Donate and ask your company to partner with us. Tell a friend about our work. Every single effort matters! 

Related Campaigns

American Giving Awards | GSF and SMA Featured Nationwide on NBC American Giving Awards | GSF and SMA Featured Nationwide on NBC

In December 2012, the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation was selected by Chase as 1 of 25 nonprofits for their American Giving Awards. The GSF had a chance at $1 MILLION and for the first time Spinal...

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