Stephen’s Story – why it’s a social media game-changer

jason manford

Stephen Sutton is an inspirational 19-year-old who has been living with cancer for the last few years, and has been told it is now incurable.

However, Stephen decided that “I might have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me.” He then embarked on an amazing fundraising journey.

The background

Stephen’s Story started as a Facebook page where Stephen posted inspirational messages and updates. The page included a bucket list of 46 things Stephen wanted to achieve in the near future, and what seemed like an ambitious fundraising target of £10,000 that he wanted to raise for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The Facebook page soon became more than the documentation of one young man’s battle against cancer. It soon grew to become a message of limitless positivity, as a central place for Stephen’s message that life should not be measured in time, but how much of a difference you can make in the time you have.

stephenThe story of Stephen fundraising efforts and his wonderful message went viral – he soon smashed his fundraising target of £10,000, raising it to £500,000 and again to £1 million (the total he has raised for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the time of writing is £2.6 million).

The campaign has attracted the support of celebrities like Jason Manford (who started the #thumbsupforstephen hashtag and used his own social media reach to support the campaign) and Jimmy Carr, who was on Stephen’s original bucket list of people to meet, before Stephen decided to shift attention away from the list in favour of more fundraising.

Why Stephen’s Story is so amazing

It goes without saying that Stephen is an inspiring story, and that his personal posts are incredibly moving (this one, in which Stephen gives a “final thumbs up“, is particularly moving).

What I find particularly amazing about it is just how emotive it is, and how focused Stephen is on what he believes is important in life – positivity, living life to the full and not letting cancer get in the way of that. It’s no surprise that he’s inspired thousands of people to donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust. How can you not feel moved reading his story? How can you not want to channel that emotion into donating?

Stephen selfieI also think it’s interesting that the biggest social media campaigns of 2014, Stephen’s Story and No Makeup Selfie, use text donations as the main way to donate. Most social media consumption happens on mobiles, so there is no easier way to act on your desire to donate than texting.

Above all, Stephen’s Story is just that – his story. He’s a supporter of the Teenage Cancer Trust who just decided to tell the story of his own experiences through social media. But it’s no ordinary tale; it’s an fantastic statement of resilience that social media has amplified into a stunning fundraising movement, even a campaign to inspire us all to live life to the full.

I’m delighted that social media has the power to bring a story like this to the attention of the world, that it can help raise so much money for such a great cause, and that Stephen decided to share his incredible story.

Support Stephen’s Story

So I urge you – pick up your phone, and text STEPHEN to 70300 to donate £5.


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