Crunch time for Kanzius/Pepsi fundraiser

Although I’ve never experienced it, they say that there is some kind of runners euphoria in the final miles of a marathon.

That endorphin rush is being experienced right now by the supporters of the John Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation, as they attempt to cross the finish line in 1st place and win $250,000 from the Pepsi Refresh project. With just four full days to go at this writing, the cause has jumped from 17th in the first week to number one over the weekend, and it’s supporters are going full-throttle to keep it there.

A massive social and new media effort very early on became a constant on traditional media, and if I’m Pepsi, I’m thinking that this little expenditure of $1.3 million each month is worth far more than exploding fireworks and Michael Jackson (RIP) singing Pepsi lyrics to the tune of “Billie Jean.”

Meanwhile the folks at the Kanzius Foundation have proved to be masters of viral marketing. Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter posts from across the country have been lit up with encouraging messages and links to the Pepsi site. The Times-News reported Monday that the Foundation is leaving no stone unturned for votes. With a strong dose of creativity, Executive Director Mark Neidig arranged for  some face time at 30 Rock:

He also said the effort was aided by a trip he made to New York City on Friday and Saturday with cancer survivor Alyson Amendola and her son, Conor, who has said, “I hate cancer.”

They appeared on television Friday morning in the “Today” show crowd holding a sign directing people to the Web site HelpConor.com, which in turn encourages people to vote for the Kanzius Foundation in the Pepsi contest, Neidig said.

They took 5,000 brochures, with information about how to vote for the Kanzius Foundation, and handed them out near Times Square and a billboard about the Pepsi competition. They met a group of girls waiting for concert tickets and asked the group to help. The girls used their PDAs to contact friends and ask them to vote for the Kanzius Foundation, Neidig said.

“This was part of the surge that took place,” he said.

We’re starting to get the picture that this is mutually-beneficial campaign for both Pepsi and the winning causes that far exceeds the monetary award.

Not that it comes without controversy. At post time there were 3,132 comments on the Kanzius voting page, with the vast number being encouraging and providing a forum for memorials of lost loved ones to the disease. But a few are very negative toward the cause, and there has been trash talk back and forth among the leading causes in that race, some quite ugly.

It was discouraging, especially last week as the Kanzius cause was attempting to climb into the Top Two, at how many disparaging comments were made on the sites for an rebuilding of an elementary school as well as a community center for the Boys and Girls club by the cancer research supporters. The “going negative”  strategy may work for political campaigns, but it is totally inappropriate when you’re trying drum up support for humanitarian causes.

So, have you voted? It’s easy, especially if you have Facebook, but you have to do it the right way:

  1. Click over to http://www.refresheverything.com/kanziuscancerresearch
  2. Click “Vote for this idea”
  3. Login via Facebook or by registering with your e-mail address
  4. Click “Vote for this idea” AGAIN
  5. If you see the voting button go away and some cute little message pop-up, you’re golden!

Let’s keep the euphoria going through Friday night!

12 Responses to Crunch time for Kanzius/Pepsi fundraiser

  1. Mark Cunningham says:

    I would first like to say that you all have a great cause and believe that you are deserving of the grant just as any other cause is. However, I was just speaking the truth about the fake accounts that came from your project and it was confirmed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch article by Mark Neidig who is the executive director of Kanzius. Along with these fake accounts have been very negative comments from them on our cause’s page as well as other leading cause’s pages from Kanzius supporters with names such as “ben dover”, “Bernie Madoff” and “Madoff Bernie”. This also leads to fake votes from these accounts. Can’t you see where we would be bitter towards that? If one of our supporters did that, wouldn’t you feel the same way? We have been in first and second all month and now we are stuck in third. Only the top 2 win. Supposedly, Pepsi is going to weed out these votes after the month is over and if you all still win, then be proud that you have won based on your efforts. It sounds like most of you are doing the right thing in campaigning your cause, just like we have been. It is very sad however that a bad apple has poisoned your cause with the fake accounts. I hope we haven’t ruined our cause in the eyes of all of the good people that support Kanzius and if we need your help next month that you will continue to help us out. We lost our 7 year old elementary school to a mine sink last year. This happened overnight and it looked like an earthquake hit it. It was built on the same site as the old school that was about 80 years old so we didn’t expect this to happen. Our entire area has mines underneath so we are finding it difficult to find a new location for a new school, but we are planning to fill the underground mines before we build. This is going to cost us millions of dollars more. You may wonder why insurance didn’t cover this. Mine subsidence insurance has a $100,000 cap. Oh boy, screwed by an insurance company. Surprise, surprise! We are at the top of the list for state funding, but we have to come up with $5mil out of the district’s pockets. We have turned to fundraising to accomplish some of this which is why we entered the Pepsi grant challenge. Our cause can be found at http://www.benldschool.com Thanks for reading!

  2. Heavy D says:

    I am sorry to hear about the school, but fund raising for a government entity that gets millions in tax dollars already, is a bit of a push for most of us. The Kanzius Project has the potential to help all Americans, in fact all people world wide, the money for your school will only benefit the tax payers in that area.

    I have voted everyday with my 1 email account. I am sorry people left bad messages on your message board. It’s terrible behavior. But really how many people are doing this? Your school is in 3rd place which means you’re also losing to a boys & girls club, so maybe it’s your project and not just our ‘cheaters’.

  3. Danny Lucas says:

    Amazingly, a Screamfest Horror Flick idea is in 5th place! I suppose Mr. Cunningham could be upset to lose to that. However, his comments above are thoroughly misleading.

    Cunningham is a parent at the school and obviously involved from a personal viewpoint in his preferred project. But he wants an ethical outcome, as does Pepsi, and the eventual winners EACH month to come.

    But Mr. Cunningham attributes words, in the Press and Tower, to Mr. Neidig, a Kansius Director. Mr. Neidig never said the words attributed to him by Cunningham.

    The source of accusation of fraudulent accounts is none other than Mr. Cunningham. And, because he said it in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he then sources himself here, with the claim Neidig said “open up 100 email accounts” as confirmed.

    So, WHO said WHAT?

    From the article, an accusation is made that cheating is done by opening 100 email accounts to vote. Listen in:

    “Benld toggled between the top two slots for a better part of the month. But now at the top is a nonprofit in Erie, Pa., that bills itself as “working to develop a cure for cancer that has no side effects.” When the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation came from its ranking at 100th place to land in first, those near the top became suspicious. Accusations began flying.

    “We have worked our tails off all month long by voting and promoting, and many of us are really ticked off about getting rolled over by a couple of cheaters,” said Benld parent Mark Cunningham. He said those gathering votes for Kanzius and other causes are asking supporters to set up 100 or so e-mail addresses and to vote from each daily. The rules of the contest say that “you may vote up to 10 times per account per day, but each vote must be for different projects.” Cunningham also said the comments left on the site bashing Benld and other proposals are inappropriate.”
    —St Louis Post Dispatch, Doug Moore reporter

    At no time in the article did Mr. Neidig say, suggest, or call on supporters to subvert the spirit of the Pepsi program by opening up multiple email accounts.

    Kansius’ project was in 100th place and zoomed to the top, displacing Cunningham’s school rebuild.

    But reporter Doug Moore succinctly sums up what is going on in his first paragraph:

    ” But as voting wraps up today, school supporters find themselves running against one of the most emotional issues in the country: finding a cure for cancer.”

    There are 1138 projects Mr. Cunningham.
    Your project was out front as a hare, while the tortoise Kansius cancer was back 100 spots. As more people face a choice of a sole school under the Education vote area, versus fighting cancer under the Health spot at Pepsi, the award need is obvious and folks are voting accordingly.

    While there is merit in the sad fact of comments being negative in the program on ALL sides, false attribution of statements to a newspaper — Cunningham makes the claim of 100 emails accounts but claims it is verified by Neidig—-and even the suggestion with no proof whatsoever, is as bad as the wicked commentary that maligns everyone.

    Which is more unethical or cheating Mr. Cunningham?
    Multiple votes,… or spreading false rumors that 100 email accounts are opened by frontrunners now?

    All 1,138 causes have merit or Pepsi would not allow them as entries to vote upon.

    Your school is drawing upon a population area that far exceeds Erie, PA. You have Chicago and all Illinois knowing your need. Thus, first or second place was not hard.

    Kansius has been on 60 Minutes on CBS and explained his methods in detail to the world. As people became aware that THIS project is the same as what they saw on TV long ago, Chicago population votes were dwarfed by a global knowledge of Kansius and his viable cure method.

    Pepsi weighed in with this:

    “Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said “proxy” voting — setting up dozens of e-mail accounts to be able to vote several times a day — is “skirting the spirit” of the contest rules and is discouraged. She said the site is monitored by an outside company to ensure a fair, accurate count of votes.”

    And the check for fraud is easily done Mr. Cunninham.
    A look at IP address will eliminate multiple votes in a flash.

    I sense your frustration at moving down the leaderboard.
    But I do not think you helped your cause with the quotes you made, with no proof whatsoever, in the St. Louis newspaper.

    As of now, no one knows who the top two winners will be.

    You wrote here at Press and Tower,
    “I hope we haven’t ruined our cause in the eyes of all of the good people that support Kanzius and if we need your help next month that you will continue to help us out.”

    The folks in Erie, PA have a strong ethic, and a nobilty at “turning the other cheek” when maligned falsely.
    Just never call us “unfashionable” or you might here back a word or two.

    Your words in St. Louis did not “ruin your cause”, but I assure you they did not elevate it either.
    To make sure your project wins this month, or in future months as the program continues, look in the mirror first.

    Press and Tower readers are welcome to read the St. Louis Post Dispatch article — and Mr. Cunningham’s rumormongering — here:

  4. joel says:

    We Erieites all still smart over that “unfashionable” comment, don’t we Danny?!?

  5. Danny Lucas says:

    Mr. Peter Marsh, of the Financial Times, recanted and admitted “I really like Erie”.
    So I still read the Financial Times over the Wall Street Journal, Joel.
    But yeah….the remark smarts.

    Back to Pepsi…

    Surprise. It ain’t over!
    Cunningham has managed to move from 3rd place to 2nd place in the last half hour. (2:30PM Friday, knocking the Community Center from 2nd to 3rd place).
    Mr. Cunningham has marshalled enough votes to move up to 2nd in only 1/2 day today!
    I suspect that now he is in one of the two winning spots, the “cheater” issue will have to be laid to rest, or his own win will become suspect.

    There is a clear effort to make sure they come out on top. Anyone who thinks Kansius is a shoe-in to win needs to vote this day, if you have yet to do so.

    I have been reading Cunningham’s remarks up until 2 minutes ago, at his Pepsi site and his home site.
    The more I read of his continued “cheater” remarks, the more I believe we will one day find Mark posted at this site:

  6. Mark Cunningham says:

    I would like to explain myself a little further. It seems I have made enemies with supporters of both your cause and ours. I have been the type of person who has been cast as a loser my whole life, so I am used to it by now. The damage that I have done will probably never be fixed with everyone, but I just felt I have to delve into this more. I’ll probably say something stupid again, but sorry for being an idiot in advance.

    @ Heavy D, please don’t stoop to my level, it doesn’t look good. LOL Just because our cause doesn’t affect millions doesn’t mean it is not a worthy cause. And thank you for agreeing about the comments left by what I am convinced was only one very disrespectful supporter of your cause. I guess every cause probably has a person like that. (I guess the one from ours is myself).

    @ Danny Lucas, very funny site! I am surprised that I have not been on there yet! LOL I will address your other comment in a moment.

    As you all should be aware of, about a week and a half ago, someone supporting Kanzius started creating fake accounts on the pepsi site and leaving very derrogatory comments on many of other cause’s pages. Here are some examples left on our page and I am quoting so pardon the language.

    Tobias Grant (looks like the first one left, maybe this is the culprit’s real identity)
    Why are you people voting for this when we could have a CURE FOR CANCER!?

    Nathan Budovsky
    To *****with you and your **********ng school.

    Nick Marando

    Jane Doe
    so a school got destroyed. i understand your loss, but instead of helping out your little community, how about we DON’T be selfish and instead get the grant for something that would impact hundreds of millions of lives. VOTE FOR THE CANCER CURE.

    nicholas crilley
    What the *****is wrong with you people?! Voting for a school? Go to a new school and quit whining! There is a cancer cure that needs votes. I***** voted for this, and then get cancer, I’ll laugh my head off

    Burger King
    ***gers dont need schools

    blahblah **edit** blahblahblahblahblah
    How is this beating a cure for cancer?!?! Are people really that ****ing stupid???

    Here are some more names the person(s) used. They all have similar comments about curing cancer. Maybe some of you recognize them and could take some action against them for us.
    caska velazquez, Dave May, Jolyon Wingrove, Kaito Bugaj, Ant Lin, wes taylor, Richie Gibson, Ben Schmidt, Gabriel Wong, Sylvester Woods, Sylvester Woods, Reza Asrert, jasd sasd, andy sandres, Ochas Carras, Nathan Kett, cancer isprettylame (this message had from tg with love in it. could it be Tobias Grant?), Taft Pilj, Jake Kristoph, Beurt Man, and so on. There were many more that have been removed from the likes of Bernie Madoff, Madoff Bernie, ben dover to name a few.

    As you can imagine, our supporters were very upset about this. It made your cause look bad in many people’s eyes. Not just from our cause but from many other causes. I even know that some of your biggest supporters were aware of this.

    I am a HUGE fan of Kanzius, but I must say that I am sorry for the handful of *****s that are posting negative stuff on your board. please know that the majority of Kanzius supporters are far more mature than this.

    Betty Rositer
    For those o***** posting negative comments on this and other causes in the name of Kanzius cancer research…please be aware you are doing more harm than good. Best wishes from the real Kanzius supporters to the folks trying to do good in Ben-Gil. Best of Luck!

    So when Kanzius passed us a few days after this, of course some of us became suspicious. I personally was very upset so I contacted the local media outlets with this letter.

    The Gillespie School District is in the running for a $250,000 grant from Pepsi to help rebuild our Benld Elementary School. We have been in second place most of the month, last week we were even in and out of first, which would qualify us for the grant by being in the top 2 ideas. However, another cause has flooded the site with fake email accounts (equaling fake votes) and bragged about it. Now their idea is in first place while we are in third. I’m not upset at the cause itself or it’s supporters, but one or a few of it’s supporters is responsible for the bitterness. We have worked our tails off all month long by voting and promoting and many of us are really ticked off about getting rolled over by a couple of cheaters. They have flooded our site with nasty comments from these fake email accounts which is why we know this is happening. I am asking all of the local news outlets to report or stop by Gillespie School District today to help us push these last 5 days of voting so we can get into the top 2 the fair way.

    As you can see, the media of course took the worst line of my letter to share with everyone without sharing the whole thing. So I guess I am the bad guy in this whole mess. And as far as saying your cause was encouraging others to create false emails, that is false. However, I did get this email from someone on Facebook about another cause encouraging this practice.

    have my husbands/Fathers employment Norfolk Southern..Over 3000 employees pushing for you to now! Before I was also pushing for Erins Dream..Till I got this email…I copied it and pasted it…Exactly how it was from Erin Curtis….
    We’re asking our fans & friends to dedicate at least one hour per day until 3/31 to voting for Erin’s Dream to win a $250,000 grant from Pepsi. It doesn’t have to be an hour straight, but just think…you could vote while watching your favorite shows every night or throughout the day as you get a free minute or two. It really adds up!

    If an hour seems like too much of your day, just remember, parents who have lost a child must think of ways to be courageous & strong throughout their whole day! Your dedication to an hour of voting would be a great expression of support!

    How do you keep voting for an hour?! Jenny will tell you—
    —An easy way to add more addresses without having to be too creative…go to registration page to create new email address (fyi – address doesn’t actually have to be a real one). To keep it easy use one word (ie. TOWN@gmail.com), (TOWN1@GMAIL.COM, TOWN2@GMAIL.COM, TOWN3@gmail.com, AND SO ON UP TO 100 or so). To you don’t have to keep thinking on new names (first and last), just use TOWN for both. Although i USED TOWN ONE for first name (to match the email address) so when I’m signed in I know what number I’m on. make up birthday (obviously doesn’t matter). Then go vote. It’s important to remember when you sign in and vote that you know the vote counts. Watch the vote counter on the bottom go from 10 to 9 or watch for certain words, ie. excellent, bravo, well done. This shouldn’t take you long and is our only way to make it to first or second place – we need more votes

    If we & our friends all dedicate at least an hour a day, we’ll be at number 1 for SURE!! Pass this on to your friends list!

    So you can see that this indeed was happening even though it was NOT from Kanzius. The reporter took this out of context because I told him this over the phone. I was very upset about this and the way I was treated in the article in general.

    And here are the comments from Mr. Neidig as written in the Post Dispatch.

    Mark Neidig, executive director of Kanzius, said his foundation is “totally reliant on the grass-roots efforts of people around the country and guerrilla marketing. People ask me what they can do. I say do whatever you want, just get people to vote.”

    But Neidig did post on the contest website a plea to stay positive, saying that he was “gravely disappointed” in the comments made by some Kanzius supporters about opponents, including a proposed skateboard park. Neidig said he is fortunate that his cause all but markets itself.

    “The greatest advantage we have is the thing we’re trying to fight and that’s cancer. Cancer has touched everyone. From a marketing perspective, it’s an effective way to get to an individual,” Neidig said.

    So as you see from the above comment Mr. Neidig was aware of the comments made on these accounts.

    I have to go now and will finish up my story tomorrow. Thanks for your time and congratulations. It looks like you are finishing in the top spot!

  7. Mark Cunningham says:

    Sorry about ending the last message early, I had to tend to my kids. They are the most important things in my life, which is one reason why I am so passionate in supporting our cause.

    @ Danny Lucas, I can see how you would misunderstand by the way the article was written that I accused Mr. Neidig of telling others to “open up 100 email accounts”. Mr. Moore is the one who gave that impression. I did not give it to him though as you can see from the message I sent to him and all of the St. Louis major media outlets. I believe he was more concerned with making me out to be a villain in his article than someone who was just trying to pass along a story. Well he achieved that in my opinion. My goal in contacting all of the St. Louis media outlets was to make people aware of our cause to strum up enough votes for us to put us in the top 2. Yes I was upset that we had dropped into the #3 spot after being in first and second the entire month and let my emotions get the best of me. For that I apoligize to Kanzius and it’s supporters. If anyone wants to bash me for that, then I am guilty and will take the heat. Upon reading the article here at Press and Tower, I was made aware of all of the promoting and see the tremendous amount of networking and marketing your supporters have done and you all should be proud of your accomplishments. I would also like to thank all of the Kanzius supporters who voted for us in this final day of voting helping us get into the #2 spot. Some of them left comments saying they voted for us which is great sportsmanship!

    Also, you state that we are getting support from Chicago which is totally untrue. As I am sure we do get some votes from Chicago, we are about 250 miles from there. Our community consists of Gillespie, pop. 3500 and Benld, pop. 1600. Compared to Erie, we are very tiny. In fact, our 5000 or so residents dwarfed the worldwide attention that your cause has so to finish in second place behind you is something we can be proud of! We have worked our tails off trying to hang in there near the top all month by networking with other causes and on Facebook as our main efforts. We are about 50 miles from St. Louis, but the attention that we received in that market was too few and far between. In March, we received some media attention from the St. Louis market, but in April, we only appeared once (until today) on a television station that I am aware of. That in itself should show you the heart and effort that many of us have put into marketing our cause.

    You also claim that they can check for multiple votes from the same IP address. This may or may not work. We would lose probably half of our votes because our community encouraged people without internet access to vote at the local bank, the library, and at the school which is also where many of the eligible kids voted from. It is also quite possible that Tobias Grant or whomever was responsible for the start of this entire mess also voted from a public place making it difficult to track down the source of the bogus accounts.

    In your other message, I am getting the gist that I must be stuffing the ballot box myself. I was saving that for next month so no it wasn’t me. I guess negative publicity is better than none after all!

    So in closing, I hope I have cleared up some of the miscommunication between us and our causes and everything in between. As I walk the streets in my community in the near future, I’m sure I will be looked down upon by many as I have always felt. That’s just the way life in a small town goes. It may be time for me to relocate soon. Maybe I’ll move to Erie! LOL

    I’m sure we’ll hear from each other tomorrow! Congratulations are in order, I hope!

  8. Danny Lucas says:

    Hello to you, Mark Cunningham.

    I welcome your comments at the Press and Tower. Indeed, I have written that comments, are the first part of any blog I read. I had a hunch your name would reappear here, especially given the final placements.

    I assure you there will be celebration from the magnanimous deed of Pepsi, in Erie, PA and in Gillespi, IL. It appears to me that if the original aplication complies with Pepsi rules, both of our towns are winners.
    I do have a small area of hurt in my heart that everyone can not win in this endeavor, and the 3rd place losing in the final few hours gave me pause for thought this afternoon. A dream stopped for them, for now.

    We are not a country of winners and losers; we are a country where the impossible becomes possible, through new marketing techniques we have witnessed via this Pepsi refresh campaign.

    I have read comments at all ten sites in the $250K category. Pepsi did their best at censoring the worst of the worst. Indeed, YOUR own word passionate came out p***ionate, and many other words were bleeped internally to keep it clean. I applaud Pepsi for their efforts; afterall, this is new for them too.

    As a single parent dad, I have your same passion for my kids, so I relate to you on that level as well. As they grew older, I was able to move to Bethlehem, PA for a few years and command a better salary than in Erie, as much of our manufacturing has disappeared.

    On the East side of PA, Bethlehem to the Delaware River (which is the outline separating PA and NJ) many limestone quarries and coal mines have seen decades of drawing hard rock from underground. That area has the same problem as you….sinkholes take down entire bridges and huge homes disappear. I could visualise your school sinking very easily.

    When I moved from there to Florida, I lived very near Sanibel Island, where John Kansius….radio owner in Erie, held a winter retreat. It was in that FL garage where John Kansius tinkered to make a prototype of his cancer cell killer. Read up on it on Google; it is no longer a dream or wish, it is a reality that has proven in animals, and human trials come next.

    But like your school, seed money is needed to allow a new beginning. Wiping out cancer in tests here in Erie, and having a riddance to a cruel disease is just too overwhelming to comprehend.

    You have witnessed viral marketing.
    Your nearly month long lead was less a victim of cheating, and more a victim to a perfect storm coming together, in marketing everywhere and in many forms.
    I encourage you to explore that concept to obtain the balance of funding required for your children to learn safely.

    We will do our best here, to find a cure for cancer and let your children and mine, live a life without worry of cancer. Imagine that!

    Many decades ago, before China was a world player, our Mayor went to Zibo, China and established a formal “sister city” linkage with Erie, Pa and Zibo, China.

    But we have never created a brother city, despite Philadelphia being the City of Brotherly Love.
    Given our coming together in this program, I encourage you to speak to your Mayor (or Governor) and advise them it is time to establish a brother city with Erie, PA.
    The dialog need not stop. Both of our communities are in need of new methods to create growth and sustainable ways of life…meaning jobs, so our children do not have to leave for greener pastures.

    Our Mayor reads the Press and Tower, so I am sure he would be receptive to a linkage. I have no qualms in asking him personally.

    In every family, there seems to be a black sheep.
    In Erie, PA, some of my comments have folks stamping me as a black sheep, while others applaud. You can not win when you voice what you are passionate about, for different folks have different passions, eh?

    Given that, I ask that you set aside the notion that you yourself are a black sheep, as you seem to indicate above. You were frustrated at a turtle walking past a hare by the tree, and crossing the finish line first.

    Neither you, or Erie, have a sense of entitlement to these funds. Both parties established what they wanted, and how to obtain it. Ours was like boiling water on the stovetop. It seemed forever to catch on, but when it did, it boiled over impressively, moving from spot 100 to first place.
    Guerilla marketing or viral marketing looks like a graph chart with a line horizontal almost all the way across the page, and then, in the last segment, rising to the heavens. That is what happened with the Kansius effort.

    I believe that we should have both of our town leadership folks establish a linkage of mutual cooperation, for we have both proven effective at marketing ourselves.

    Next, I believe, our leaders (or ourselves if they are shy) should contact Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, and express what has occurred in making us among the earliest leaders in Pepsi’s new program.
    I want to ask if they either, would MATCH the $250,000, or individually, contribute $125,000 each as a joint match to Pepsi dollars.

    Votes for both of our projects came from far and wide; we do not know the extent. But it reflects what people in America feel is worthwhile out of a pool of 1,138 proposals. A matching grant from Gates or Winfrey or both would be in line with endorsing the choice America has made.

    If you feel that has merit, Mark, then let us not write one another….let us make the contact (and more) with whoever can help in any way. For a country high in debt, philanthropy has never stopped in this land.

    I believe we can help each other again in both projects, by leveraging the win that has occurred with Pepsi, and make it go further. Ponder that, and let me know your thoughts.

    I would like you to know that in Erie, PA, there is one of the most unique places in the world to stand and observe life. I took my daughter, Karli to a bridge on Powell Avenue when she was only 5. A plane was in the distance, about to land at a nearby airport. I asked if she would like to watch it land.

    She loved the idea, and I pulled over and walked to the center of the bridge wall. The plane was far away, but a train came whooshing under the bridge. It startled Karli and she laughed as the breeze moved her hair all over.

    In the distance West, I showed her a forklift at work, in a factory that made steel doors. Also, a refrigerated truck, for an ice cube making company.

    Cars and motorcycles zoomed over the bridge.
    We turned East and Roadway had 18 wheelers all over the place. Millcreek Township had 72 school busses parked over there too. Another company had dump trucks at work.

    To the Southwest, we looked at a utility truck lift from our electric company, and a TANK, that the military parked there for the National Guard. In the distance was a series of boats and yachts at a company called Surf N Turf Marine.

    If you could name a form of transportation, it could likely be seen from the Powell Avenue bridge; EVERY form of transportation was in view (except a rocket ship to the moon).

    I told Karli that “everyone was trying to get somewhere somehow. What do you think about that?”

    Her answer? She folded her arms over one another and replied:
    “Daddy, someday will you take me up above the clouds?”
    I promised YES.

    Five years later, the arrangement were made, her bag secretly packed, and tickets in my pocket. I had my camera handy to catch her facial expression.

    “Do you remember asking me to take you up above the clouds somday?”
    “Well, we’re going right now”.
    It did not register with her, for she had never flown.
    I turned down toward the airport, and there was a train going by west, and a plane landing east, above the bridge. While driving, I snapped an incredible picture with all centered at high speed, directly over the bridge center, for the camera was in my hand.

    We parked, and I gave her a travel bag from the trunk. She still did not believe she was going.
    We handed in the tickets and flew to Pittsburgh, shopped and ate, then caught another flight to St. Louis. A 747 not a piddle plane. This was pre 9/11 so flying was fun.

    The flight gals found it was her first flight, so they gave her wings. The Captain heard the news and asked her to come to the cockpit. As the sun was setting, he told her to sit down and she sat in his chair. He put his captain hat on her, and I snapped a picture of a beaming ten year old….in the captain’s chair and hat.

    “Sit in that chair over there dad” she yelled.
    I sat in the copilot seat and she snapped a picture of me. They are framed and blown up on her home walls now.

    Upon landing in St. Louis, we needed to take a high speed train 22 miles to the Mississippi and our nearby hotel. Cost? $1 for me and 50 cents for her to zoom in minutes downtown.

    The next day, she went up a small M&M contraption to go to the top of the gateway Arch. (I was unaware that the Washington Monument in D.C. would fit UNDER the arch)

    Clydesdale horses were pulling carriages of visitors
    below. Anheiser-Busch stadium was in clear view, and all the Mississippi River, and barges galore.
    “Can we go on one of those boats dad?”
    And off we went on a steam paddle boat.

    The next day was a reversal after swimming at the hotel.
    Two more airplane flights were coming. From 5 pm Saturday, until 11 pm Sunday, we travelled every form of transportation I could find…..just as we observed on Erie’s Powell Avenue Bridge. She had been above the clouds four times in 30 hours.
    Her eyes sparkled with joy.

    Mark, kids dream and later, make them come true.
    We, as adults with Pepsi all month, are STILL making dreams come true, eh?

    Expect a miracle.
    Last I heard, they are still, His specialty.

    Best regards,
    Danny Lucas

  9. Joe Villella says:

    Mark, your thoughtful comments are appreciated. I think most of us understand the negative impact of the nasty posts and how Ben-Gil supporters felt upon reading them and seeing them apparently working to deny you your dream. I’m very happy that BOTH causes ended up making it.

    One thing I would like clarified is the issue of voting from multiple e-mail addresses. From the following FAQ entry, Pepsi’s guidelines aren’t crystal clear:

    “May I submit more than one vote from the same IP address?
    Yes. However, you may only vote up to 10 times per account per day, but each vote must be for different projects.”

    “per account” leaves room for interpretation does it not? Anyway, I assume every project had this going on to some extent and hope it wasn’t ultimately an advantage for one over another.

    To all readers supporting either project, I commend you on a job well done! I encourage you and everyone else to stay engaged – go to http://www.refresheverything.com, find projects you deem worthy of the cash Pepsi’s offering, and VOTE FOR THEM! Why not?

    Joe Villella

  10. Heavy D says:

    @Mark Cunningham I am glad you are coming bad to this site and posting. I haven’t seen final numbers or results but I heard the Kanzius was number 1 and your school was in 2 at the end so both will get the $250k. Please accept our early congratulations.

    How did you get such a rally at the end? it really seems miraculous! I am sure no one in your camp would EVER stoop to what our side has been accused of so it is truly amazing that you were able to pull it out with such limited local/regional support.

    I’d agree to a point that your cause is worth, but look at this comparison:

    Cable/satellite TV is a worthwhile expense ( 86% of American households pay for TV service)It brings your breaking news, family entertainment & stuff you’d never see that is amazing ( the series LIFE in high def)

    health insurance is a worthwhile expense that could save your life. And even if nothing is life threatening just the quality of life improvements are amazing (I just got off anti-biotics, my wife has steel rods in her back …etc)

    Now pick one.

    I realize with 2 winners both can be picked but from our point of view we supported one and only 1. Probably like you did. This may explain some of the animosity towards your school’s project ( which already gets taxpayer money)I apologize for the bad remarks, the internet often brings the worst out in us. People all over the country (actually world) are touched by cancer. Rallying support for a school that few of us will ever see let alone know someone who attends would be much more difficult.

    But please consider that rebuilding 1 school is not as important as curing cancer.

  11. Mark Cunningham says:

    @Danny, Thanks for the kind words. I love that story about your daughter. It’s things like that that are indeed priceless! Yeah, those elevators to ride to the top of the Arch are something else aren’t they! They are like little egg shaped pods! LOL I agree that Pepsi did it’s best in setting up this event. Too bad a few have taken advantage of the few flaws. Apparently, you can curse in all caps and in your account name though! Oh, well, I guess it could happen on anything.

    It’s funny how you mention Sanibel Island. I used to live in the Ft. Myers area myself. It’s a small world after all! I am thankful that the author sent me a link to this page to open my eyes to the intense promoting and marketing that your cause did. Like I said earlier, I was too emotional at the time and something appeared to be not what it actually was.

    As far as me talking to the mayor, I don’t know if I will be able to do so anytime soon. I suffer from a disability like you do. Mine is severe anxiety. In fact, I take medication for this and last weekend, I dropped my bottle off at the pharmacy for a refill. I forgot to pick it up on Friday, then again on Saturday morning. I was turning into a mess by Monday, which is part of the reason why I was in a bitter mood that day. The medication I take is mind altering and after about 2 days, I really start to feel it. Anyway, with all of the ruckus I created, I’m not sure if the Mayor will hear anything that I have to say! LOL His name is John Hicks if your Mayor would like to get a hold of him on his own. It sounds like a cool idea. Two totally different causes each coming into it’s own battle for the prize is a very cool story!

    I also like what you said about getting philanthropists on board with a matching donation. Maybe we can keep the motivation up by throwing the idea their way.

    @Heavy D, Thanks for the congrats. It is nice to hear that from any of the Kanzius supporters. I’m not too sure how exactly we got back into second place, but I have a theory. I think the article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch gave us that last push we needed from people who didn’t know about our cause. According to the PD, 1.3 million adults read the newspaper each week. Also, I believe that other causes figured they were out of the running so they threw votes our way. The #4 or #5 cause is from Alton, IL which is only 30 miles away and I hear they really helped us out at the end. I just hope it wasn’t from fake accounts! LOL

  12. Gloria says:

    What is Pepsi doing about the fake voting? We didn’t realize that was how we are supposed to play the game until contacted by another organization to “build alliances”.. we’ve actually stayed around 15 through this whole thing by honest to goodness support from the community. Now we are being left behind at a rapid rate because we do not have any fake emails to vote with. What a huge waste of a month. We never had a chance because we didn’t get a copy of the “unofficial rules” These type of things need to be made more available.

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