Our story so far…
In late 2013, my dad invited Drew and I for a Sunday breakfast…..
As both of us can never really shy away from free food or turn down ol’ Dr. J himself, the three of us met over an epic “big English breakkie”. However, what was thought to be a friendly meet quickly became a call for action. Dad was diagnosed with kidney disease (glomerulonephritis), would have to dial back working to start dialysis, but most importantly: needed a kidney donor transplant asap.
The next 5 minutes at the table were a combination of awkward/shocked/upset as it hit us just as hard as the thump my dad took to share it. But what happens when you get hit or knocked down?
You get right back up!
Find Dr. Joshi a Kidney
Our full English nosh turned into a thinktank of how Drew and I could help find dad a kidney asap. Inspired by an article similar to this Independant.Co.Uk story, we took to social media and started:
All three of us shared my dad’s story with our friends, family, and respectful networks within seconds of launching. We were up and running right away with my opening letter as a successful post; it’s been shared 33 times and been viewed 2000 times and counting. Messages and emails began to populate our inbox. Many wanted to express their sympathy, send well wishes, and share a story of how dad played a important part in their life. Simply put, amazing.
However, even better: people were reaching out to learn more about how they could help and what needed to be done in order to become a donor candidate themselves. Conclusion = simply awesome…
Drew and I were now helping interested parties learn about what it meant to be an organ donor and all the greatness that came with it. With social media being updated/moving ahead, we were fortunate to be featured in a Mississauga News article. Drew and my dad did a great job giving a brief Dr. J bio along with our campaign, but it really touched on why our search for a kidney donor was an important issue; waiting list demands are up but the supply level remains stagnant. The article provided a great perspective on this situation and we heard from many more via Facebook.
People were really connecting with us as it became evident that the message of organ donor awareness had never clearly been explained to them before.
Organ Donation Awareness Month
April was upon us a few weeks after the article was covered by a variety of local community papers. I share the date because April is actually “Organ Donation Awareness Month” and we were contacted by The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Ontario chapter. Our article in the news had reached their desk as kidney health, awareness, and donation promotion are a huge aspect of the Foundation’s mission. We were floored upon receiving an invitation from them to join NOTDAW or National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week as a feature story!
This time, Dad and I were able to chat with the Foundation and speak on the impact of the initiative started by Drew and I, “Physician’s Family Takes to Social Media to Raise Awareness about the Need for More Organ Donors”. We were featured via the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Twitter account and in good company with all others under the #NOTDAW hashtag. Our post on the article was viewed by 3100 others. It was an absolute privilege to be a part of that!
Win a Billboard Contest
Our most recent accomplishment has been a healthy combo of gigantic enthusiasm & surprise and is beyond exciting. I took at chance and entered Toronto Indie88’s “Win a Billboard” Contest.
Beating out countless applicants, our “Help Dr. J” donor awareness campaign was selected as one of the 12 finalists. The Grand Prize was a billboard which would feature our campaign idea and be seen by over 500,000+ people at one of the busiest intersections in Canada. I still remember getting the phone call on a Friday afternoon at work; couldn’t sit still or control my determination to have listeners vote for our donor awareness campaign. Within 24 hours, Drew and I spent all Saturday working on dozens of mock billboard ideas. We made sure to get our message across, but it was equally important to keep things positive with a bit of humour. It was our chance to break the ice and create that awareness connection of organ donor awareness once again.
The whole process reminded me of high school all over. We were working on a group project only this time it was being judged by a panel and graded by our fellow peers/loyal listeners. No pressure…
A personal highlight for Drew and I was having a straight-up blast chatting with Candice, Brian, and Matt from Indie Mornings. Both of us are huge fans and it was 10/10 to speak about my dad, how we were when we started everything, and where we are now in the donor awareness campaign. A key takeaway: “Dad is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of medicine…”. We had dozens of people reach out on our personal Twitter accounts and had 10,000+ views on our mock billboards posted on Facebook. It was surreal.
Indie88 had over 45,000 votes in the end, but we were not victorious. Sorry, let me rephrase that, we were not victorious at that time.
PSA on Indie88
Dr. J, Drew, and I have been given a “once in a lifetime” privilege of having our own organ donor awareness PSA run on Indie88 for a month. Truly, I’m still speechless at the whole thing.
Sorry because I say “awesome” too much, but… that is pure awesome.
We both spent 2-3 days prepping: learning various vocal coaching tips via YouTube, drank nothing but plain tea, and put karaoke on hold to stay strong!*
*All false but I know I was definitely all nerves to speak in front of the mic.
However, the day came and we were both stoked to visit the Indie88 office along with meeting the great minds behind the magic. Promo director Shawn greeted us with open arms immediately and the three of us brainstormed the script. It was very important to him that our message was presented in a way Drew and I thought would impact not just my father, but the entire donor community. I’m still very grateful for that and it’s a perfect que for yet another “awesome”.
Everything was finalized and we were given the full tour of Indie88’s building; meeting GM Megan, her awesome pooch Willow, getting props from host Carlin and their marketing/promo/social media titans among many others. The coolest part came when Drew and I hit the booth to work with one of their producers, Dave. We stuck a deal to make Drew sound like George Clooney and I called dibs on Vin Diesel. The whole process was educational and went smooth; big thanks to Dave for being so helpful and a great coach.
A total of 3 takes for Drew and an upsetting 7 takes from me = one stellar public service announcement on our initiative for organ donor awareness and education.
Our new website by Diego of Otitis Digital
A referral from another close friend put me in touch with Diego Silva of Otitis Digital. I’m a huge fan of Diego’s innovative eye for getting a message across via digital marketing.
He’s been beyond helpful in lending some creative tips along with adding some A+ visualization to “Help Dr. J”.
I couldn’t be prouder of what’s been done with the webpage.
Diego = the man.