Posted by ajamison 3 years, 4 months ago

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A few months ago, I became virtually introduced to the story of Kylie Elizabeth Rowand, a San Diego toddler diagnosed with Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma. I’ve had the privilege of working with the LLS San Diego chapter on raising awareness for its Light the Night Walk in the past and a big part of that entailed working with young kids who were battling cancer and sharing their story. So when the Prayers for Kylie, God’s Little Warrior Facebook page kept appearing in my newsfeed as a result of my friends liking the posts, I ventured over to the page made up of more than 104K fans to learn about Kylie. It was then that I started following every update Kylie’s mother, Bree, shared. The posts included everything from heartbreaking setbacks where doctors gave her no chance to incredible miracles. The Facebook page served as an channel to allow friends, family and complete strangers like myself to follow this family’s journey. I became emotionally connected to this little girl who I never met and was taken back by the amount of fight she was giving. The number of surgeries and treatments Kylie endured was without a doubt unfair, but she continued to battle through it all. On February 7, 2015, I signed on to Facebook and my heart sank.

“This morning at 10:19am our beautiful angel went to heaven.”

To say I’ve been personally touched by this little girl whom I’ve never even met would be an understatement. Her story has been covered by numerous media outlets, including NBC San Diego, 10 News, East County Magazine and even the Huffington Post. I know that the 104K Facebook fans have been personally touched by this brave little girl and I can only hope that this has brought more awareness to childhood cancer and the need for it to stop.

Since Kylie’s passing, I learned of the KyliesLegacyAuction Instagram account that was created as an auction page to honor Kylie's Legacy and to raise additional funds to help support the Rowand’s. I reached out to Jenifer Walker, the organizer and creator of the account, and while I learned a lot about this particular social auction, what surprised me the most was that she has ZERO connection to the Rowand family. She’s just like thousands of us who stumbled across this heart breaking story and she felt the need, as a mom, to stand up and help in any way she could.

On Friday, February 27 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Jenifer launched a massive social media auction that included approximately 700 vendors who generously donated 791 items to help raise funds for the family. Because the 12-hour auction was such a success, she extended it by hosting two more flash sales bringing the total number of items donated to 1032.  The total amount raised? $30,098.50. It’s incredible to think of the power these social media channels can have when campaigns are devised and executed properly.

When I asked Jenifer about how she came up with the idea to host an auction via Instagram she said, “I hosted the very first Instagram auction to my knowledge. It was for a personal friend who lost everything in the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma Tornado. Since then, I've hosted four more with #redballoonsforRyan being the highest grossing auction to date.”

So how did Jenifer go about getting the word out? She started posting images, hash tagging and asking friends to post. In addition, she emailed vendors and bloggers asking for them to post as well.

Surely, there were some hurdles she encountered along the way as she set out to host this 12-hour fundraiser event.

“Instagram has new rules, one of which being you cannot upload more than 100 posts in a day. This set me back as in the past I've started uploading on a Thursday for a Saturday auction. This caused a six day delay in the auction which actually worked to our benefit and we gained more vendors and items,” she explained.

Hats off to you Jenifer Walker for not only launching a successful campaign on Instagram, but for doing this out of the kindness of your heart to help a family in need.

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