Thanksgiving marks the annual tradition of family gatherings, lots of food, and a reflection of all of the things for which we are thankful. Creating a Thankful List is reminder of what makes life so amazing. This year, Facebook placed unexpectedly high on my Thankful List because I was tagged to the story of a terminally ill French girl named Yuna.
It is no secret how social media platforms have provided a broader audience to share thoughts, information, to start a movement, elevate a personal brand, and much more. According to Statista, over 2.46 billion people worldwide currently use social media. Lately emphasis has been placed on the ways social media has divided us, however, this recent experience with Yuna reminded me of how a social media connection can result in bringing joy to a complete stranger.
Here's What Happened:
An acquaintance tagged me in the comments of a Facebook post, to bring awareness to Yuna's story and her father’s desire for Yuna to meet Argentinian Disney star/ influencer, Karol Sevilla. I was instantly hooked and wanted to help. Quick note: Karol Sevilla's engagement with her global fan base has been high, not only due to her Disney show, but also due to the authenticity in how Karol directly communicates with fans via her social channels. As I learned more about Karol, I could understand why Yuna loved her so much. It was an honor to help make their connection happen.
Yuna, is a 10-year old French girl battling a rare, incurable lung and digestive disease called Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson. The average life expectancy for a child with the disease is reportedly 12 years old. Yuna has faced immuno-hematology health challenges, and for the past year Yuna has been receiving blood transfusions every three weeks. Within the last several months Yuna’s condition became worse. Her transfusions became more frequent- every two weeks, and then every week. Yuna began to lose her hair, and it wasn't until the third doctor evaluation that Yuna's condition was diagnosed as terminal.
A family friend shared Yuna's story on his Facebook page, and then I was tagged in the comments of the post by an acquaintance asking for help.
In a race against time, I reached out to my contacts at Disney who might have a connection to Disney Latin America. After sharing Yuna’s story with my contact in Disney’s Communications department, I was put in touch with Disney’s Corporate Citizenship liaison. As a result, I discovered The Walt Disney Company has a strong commitment to wish granting! I made the connection with Yuna's family friend.
After a series of communications, Yuna received a visit from the Disney team this November. Team Disney decorated Yuna's room and presented her with gifts. Coincidentally, Yuna’s 10th birthday was a few days earlier, which made the experience extra special. Karol Sevilla spent 40 minutes video-chatting with Yuna. It's amazing how fast all of this happened...because of a tag on Facebook.
As I think about the many ways we are able to connect socially, I am thankful for how a connection on Facebook made young girl's day a little brighter. Jokingly I say I’m always “ a degree” of separation away from anyone, but in reality we all are, and that is the beauty of social media. Unfortunately I may never meet Yuna, but I am happy to be a part of making her dream come true...and to witness the positive side of the power of influence.
So yes, this year Facebook made my Thankful List, as a reminder to me of how thankful I am to have the ability to connect with so many people worldwide, and the infinite possibilities of those connections.
Here’s to showing compassion for others and gratitude towards all in perpetuity. Happy Thanksgiving.