A Kutztown University student needs a video to go viral to help her critically ill mother.
It was the end of August and move-in day for KU freshman Jessii Fosburg’s first day. Her brother, Jason Fosburg, had joined the Marines and now it was her turn to start a career. Her mother, Patti Coyne Powell, 41, had not been feeling well for some time, but it was move-in day at the university and Powell needed to get her daughter moved in to her new apartment. Once that was accomplished, Powell went directly to the hospital. On her first day away from home, Fosburg was pulled from orientation to go see her mother at the Lehigh Valley Hospital.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in my whole life,” said Fosburg. “My Mom is my best friend. I tell her everything; I call her everyday. It was very, very difficult to be away from her. It was very difficult to deal with.”
Fosburg said her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and that it had spread to her liver and to her bones. Fosburg said her liver is what actually sent her to the hospital because it was so inflamed that her stomach actually protruded. That was when they found the cancer in her lungs and after additional extensive testing, discovered the cancer had also spread to her bones. Fosburg said the doctors estimated that her mother had the cancer for approximately six to eight months before it was discovered.
Tina CoyneSmith, North Carolina, said her sister is a mother of four. In addition to her college freshman and recently deployed Marine, she has a two-year old and a tenth grader.
“She has incurable cancer and no resources, can’t work, has no money, and no private insurance,” said CoyneSmith. “She works as a TA (teachers aide) in the Emmaus school system and TA’s are hourly employees without insurance and she just falls into that group of Americans who can’t afford insurance.”
According to CoyneSmith, Powell earned about $15,000 yearly, but is no longer able to work.
“She is worried about being evicted during chemo treatments, which an angel doctor is seeing that she gets. She can barely take care of herself and has to take care of a 2 year old,” said CoyneSmith.
CoyneSmith said that in spite of all the heartbreak and having zero financial assistance from her newly sick mother, the Kutztown freshman found a way to stay in school, drive home every weekend to help, and still made the dean’s list.
“The reality is she’s an extraordinary girl. Despite all of this, as I said, she’s the first person in her nuclear family to go to college and she stayed. She drove home to help her mom and she stayed and she made the dean’s list. We’re so proud of her, but that’s my aunt pride,” said CoyneSmith.
“Her doctor is amazing. His name is Dr. Scialla with Lehigh Valley Muhlenberg Hospital. He said that if she had not come in and started treatment when she did, she probably would have died,” said Fosburg. “It was the grace of God that she went in when she did. Everything fell into place.”
Fosburg said her mother is on a very intense chemotherapy treatment to target her lung cancer. She is also on special monthly treatments to strengthen her bones. The cost of medications is very difficult for the family to afford.
“Because what the chemo does is it attacks the cancer in her bones, but then it leaves holes there so that the shots she gets kind of fills that back in and strengthens them. The bones actually miraculously will fill in on their own eventually, but she has it everywhere so she needs more help to do it because her bones just can’t fill in that many spaces at one time,” said Fosburg.
“She’s so selfless, it amazes me every day,” said Fosburg. “My Mom is living for us. It’s not even for herself. She cries to me because she wants to see me get married. She wants to see my baby sister graduate. She’s hopeful because she wants to see us grow old.”
Fosburg said her Mom has been getting help from her husband, Jason Powell, neighbors and relatives. Powell works seasonally in landscaping and is currently out of work.
Fosburg said there was actually some good news.
“The cancer stops reacting to the chemotherapy. It’s actually very common so they have to switch up the chemo, but her liver function is almost completely back to normal and her lung was collapsed before where the cancer was and it actually inflated itself. They were not expecting that to happen,” said Fosburg.
CoyneSmith said there is an offer of financial help in the way of a contest sponsored by the company where her husband, Tim CoyneSmith, works. Lenovo, a computer manufacturing company, is holding a viral video contest among employees using Lenovo products with a $50,000 grand prize if the contestant gets 500,000 views on YouTube by Jan. 31, 2015. Her husband’s friend and colleague, Derek Vincent DeShane, had entered.
“He didn’t enter the contest immediately thinking of my sister. He just sort of reflected on ‘Well what would I do if I won this money?’ He’s like, ‘You know, the best use of this money would be helping this family in need,’” said CoyneSmith. “It’s really an extraordinary story of this great human being. It’s so overwhelming to me. Whether he wins the contest or not, it’s nice that people in the world are thinking that way.”
“I wanted my video to have broad appeal and so I got the cutest person I know, my son, Nick, to star in it. He’s a big soccer fan and so we decided to feature him learning about his favorite player, Brazilian Neymar Jr. This allowed us to feature the convertible Yoga 2 Laptop PC, plus we used it when we shot the stop motion animated introduction as well,” said DeShane.
DeShane said the video was doing well and was in first place in the competition, but it became clear that he had little chance of reaching the 500,000 view goal.
“We decided to try to make this into something truly meaningful by attempting to make this go viral and win the grand prize for Patti and her family,” said DeShane. “This is great because even if we don’t get to 500,000 views, we have the link to her give forward page. We’ve already raised, last time I checked, I think $1,200 this week for her and that’s money she’s already got,” said DeShane.
CoyneSmith said they are racking their brains thinking of ways to get the video to 500,000 views and shares.
Fosburg has been spreading the word through all of her social media outlets including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and having her friends share as well.
“This is a perfect example of people helping people. These people don’t even personally know my family and they’re going to donate $50,000 if they win. It’s also a good example of how social media can be used for good,” said Fossburg. “This viral video could help my family so much. It gives me hope that things will turn around one day and that things will get better.”
The contest first started early December and it wasn’t until a week ago that the idea came about to use it to help the Powell family.
“We’re at close to 35,000 views,” said DeShane. “Take two minutes to watch this video and change a life. Please watch this video now and then share it.”
DeShane said the site had gotten a serious up-tick in the views since his decision to donate the money.
According to DeShane’s blog at http://derekvincentdeshane.com, people can help by viewing the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEfsGPTohDU&feature=youtu.be, sharing it and posting it on their Facebook page. “Take two minutes to watch this video and change a life. Patti Coyne Powell, mother of 4, has incurable stage 4 lung cancer and can no longer work. She cannot pay for food or rent. Lenovo is running a viral video contest that ends January 31st with a $50,000 prize. To win, we need 500K views. If we win, we will give the prize money to Patti. 500K views will change her life. Please watch this video now and then share it. To donate directly to Patti or learn more about her story, go here: http://gfwd.at/1revWud,” posted on his blog.
To donate directly to Patti or learn more about her story, go to http://gfwd.at/1revWud.