Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lesson learned

Don’t let skepticism get in the way of finding the truth.

I admit I was a little skeptical – and I think others in the newsroom were as well – when I pitched a story in our morning meeting based on a phone call I received from a member who wanted to get a special “message out” to fellow drivers about helping a boy with cancer who wanted to set a Guinness World Record for receiving the most get-well cards.

After all, the Web site, Snopes.com, which researches Urban Legends, has disproved many such “claims” in the past.

However, the sincere tone in OOIDA member Doug McCauley’ voice convinced me to pitch the story, and our managing editor, Sandi Soendker, urged me to check out and verify whether the story was true.

After reading about a 13-year-old boy, Josh Adkins’ wish to set the world record for the most get-well cards, Doug called Land Line wanting our help to get the message out to our readers either through the magazine or on our daily Web news to send cards to help Josh achieve his goal. He had already mailed his card and had sent a message by Qualcomm to other drivers, urging them to do the same.

After doing a little digging around, I confirmed that this rumor was indeed true. At first, I was excited because this is the type of thing I know our members would wrap their arms around, helping others, but my mood went from high to low rather quickly after finding out that Josh lost his battle with cancer a few weeks ago.

On the city of Stanford’s Web site, there was this message: “Many of you throughout the community have been showing your support and sending cards for 13-year-old Josh Adkins. He battled cancer and was taken off of life support on Oct. 24, 2007. Josh died Oct. 25, 2007.”

Although there was a sad ending to this story, I plan to check with the Guinness people to see how close Josh got to achieving his goal – I’ll bet he got real close.