October 06, 2009

Cancer Messed With the Wrong Dude. Drew Is Making It Pay.

In early June, I told you about how my friend Drew Olanoff had encountered some bad news. In what has no doubt been a life-altering experience, Drew was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and scheduled to undergo a series of chemotherapy treatments to take on the illness. At the time, I also told you about his unique strategy to fight back, using #BlameDrewsCancer, a Twitter hashtag and accompanying Web site, to organize the power of social media in his personal quest to give the Big C a big F.

Ten chemo treatments into the promised dozen, Drew is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The doctors have given him a very positive diagnosis, which doesn't mean he's completely put cancer in the rear view mirror, but he has turned the corner. Even when he is feeling the inevitable fatigue, aches, nausea and other side effects of his treatment, he is progressing closer to this specific finish line.

But even if he gets an all clear from the doctors, what cancer didn't realize was that he isn't going to be finished. In the last four months, the #BlameDrewsCancer phenomenon grew from a gimmick to a movement, one that even sported a 24-hour "blame-a-thon" in Philadelphia this September, and a tie-in with the Lance Armstrong-headed charity LIVESTRONG. Drew and the BlameDrewsCancer team have extended their efforts to aid a fellow cancer battler, Ethan Zohn, and have started #BlameEthansCancer. As Drew's personal battle ebbs, the movement will take on a new name - simply Blame Cancer, so you can continue blaming all of life's little problems on one big one that made the wrong choice by picking on the wrong guy.

Drew With the Twins in 2008 (L) and With Matthew Saturday (R)

As I've gotten to know Drew over the past year-plus, I am continually impressed by his "no prisoners" approach to getting tasks done, and his creativity. Where others would have whimpered and begged for sympathy, Drew fought back and did so with all the tools he had at his disposal.

Drew Sucking Thumbs With Sarah Saturday (L) and Sporting a Balloon Hat (R)

Just this last week, Drew made a stop in the Bay Area - armed with a new idea. Taking his idea to Twitter headquarters, and tipping Mashable on the story, Drew announced that he was going to extend the charitable impact his battle has had by auctioning off his valuable @Drew Twitter name to the highest bidder. He set the bar at $10,000 in donations to LIVESTRONG, hoping a celebrity like Drew Carey, Drew Barrymore, Drew Brees or another famous Drew, would make an offer.

On Friday, Drew stopped by our home. In the time since Drew and I became friends, our families have become friends as well. I visited him at his parents' home in New Jersey (to his surprise) earlier in the summer, and if you turn the calendar back to 2008, he was actually the first babysitter that Matthew and Sarah ever had. The twins took to him like he was one of the Grays, climbing all over him and playing with toys. (As you can see in the pics)

The next day brought a big bombshell. On Saturday, Drew Carey bid $25,000 for the @Drew name, and in a bigger commitment, promised to increase his bid to a massive $100,000 if he were to reach 100,000 followers on Twitter by Drew (Olanoff's) birthday this November 9th. And even though Carey started at only 13,000 followers at the time, he is nearing 50,000 in only a few days' time. It's incredible.

Drew Carey Digs Deep for LIVESTRONG

The story has blown up - beyond our corner of the blogosphere, and into the mainstream press. Take for example:Many startups around the Web would kill for that kind of coverage, and Drew has made it happen through creativity and persistence - two major reasons I believe that Cancer is reeling from this attack. All through the last few months, I have been blaming Drew's Cancer for stuff. I have had people ask me who Drew is and what the story is about his cancer, for those who haven't been paying attention. I have seen friends of mine who don't know Drew blaming stuff on his cancer. And I don't care if it looks a little out of whack from the usual tech stream I try to provide. This is real life, and Drew is a real friend and a real inspiration to me. So let's help Drew Carey reach one hundred thousand followers, and push the heck out of the other Drews on Twitter to try and beat his proposal.