NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 17, 2013

Charity turns to tweets to get Ellen's attention

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — The late Lucy Grogan loved to laugh. She also had a remarkable gift of taking on difficult situations and turning them around to make them positive. It’s a trait Lucy’s mother, Beecher Grogan, says is shared by internationally known comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

That’s why Grogan, who runs the cancer fundraising charity Lucy’s Love Bus, has begun a Twitter campaign aimed at convincing DeGeneres to feature the charity on her syndicated television talk show.

Last Friday, more than 800 people took part in a 24-hour Tweet-a-thon hoping to virally spread the word. During that time the hashtag #ellenmeetlucy was posted more than 1,000 times and retweeted by famous athletes, actors and musicians.

Hashtags mark key words or topics within the 140-character micro-messages known as tweets. All tweets using a specific hashtag are collected and featured on a single page allowing Twitter users to more easily follow a trending subject.

“The whole idea was getting that (the DeGeneres campaign) trending,” said Northeastern senior Jackie Walker, who took part in the tweet-a-thon in between classes Friday.

Walker, who lives in the Baltimore area, said she was able to convince members of the Baltimore Ravens football team to retweet the hashtag. At the same time, she was paying attention to which famous people were on Twitter that day and sending them tweets, in hopes that they too would send a tweet or retweet the message. Walker scored tweets and retweets by actor Elizabeth Perkins and rapper Wanz of Thrift Shop fame.

The charity, whose goal is to comfort children with cancer through grants for integrative therapies, was founded by Lucy Grogan, who died six years ago of leukemia at age 12, four years after being diagnosed. The charity awards $1,000 grants to children to help pay for therapies such as horseback riding, acupuncture and art and dance, which help children manage side-effects of cancer treatments.

Grogan said the idea for the DeGeneres campaign formed earlier this month when the charity’s profile received an inadvertent boost following a fundraising event at the Amesbury Sports Park. Thousands of people crammed into the South Hunt Road facility to watch a helicopter drop thousands of Easter eggs on to the field to be picked up by scrambling children. The event sold out quickly, but thousands of people arrived afterward hoping to gain access. The crowds overwhelmed organizers and led to many complaints from frustrated parents.

Taking advantage of the charity’s surge in profile, Grogan decided the time was ripe to boost the charity’s brand name on a national scale, hoping to garner donations from all corners of the nation.

“Ultimately, we need people across the country to know about us,” Grogan said.” I thought it would be a good time to rally the troops and get support from Ellen.”

Grogan said the charity has a presence in 17 states, but additional support is needed to make sure as many children as possible across the country can receive grant money.

Next up for the charity is a fundraising bus tour from Massachusetts to Los Angeles called the Summer of Love. Should the 40-year-old bus make the roughly 3,000-mile journey, that would be a feat by itself, Grogan said. And if the tweet-a-thon catches the attention of Degeneres or her producers prior to the bus ride, Grogan said she would love it if Degeneres could check in on the bus journey to see if it’s still in one piece.

“We’re all about humor and laughter,” Grogan said of her charity.