Last summer, the world seemed to go bananas over the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS.
I participated, in large part due to a family member who's living with that illness. Not everyone was keen on taking part in that online effort though, and at the same time, it stirred up talk of whether our D-Community needed our own viral initiative that would create the magnitude of awareness and fundraising that the Ice Bucket Challenge achieved.
One of those nominated to dump ice on his head was twenty-something Will Hauvner from Maryland, who decided to "change up the game" with his own video with a diabetes spin -- that didn't involve ice or water.
Instead, Will created what he called the Egg Crack Challenge for diabetes. As you might guess from the name, the simple idea was to crack an egg on your head and make a donation for diabetes research. In this case the money was aimed at the JDRF for all the work they do for T1D. And when Will made his original video, he donated the $48.25 he had in his wallet to launch this spin-off challenge.
Now, the story could end there... but it doesn't.
Sadly, Will died in early February after coming down with the stomach flu and being found unresponsive a day later. The 22-year-old was an artist and lacrosse team captain at Rollins College in Florida, and he had been diagnosed with type 1 at age 15 during his freshman year of high school.
His close friend and high school girlfriend Paige Kennedy took up the Egg Crack Challenge in Will's honor, and during the past few months has lit a fire under this effort. It's gotten mainstream media coverage and raised $52,000 so far, with celebs such as actor Mario Lopez head-cracking eggs in the spirit of giving, along with others like this trio: celeb gossip blogger Perez Hilton, baseball exec Billie Beane, and former beauty queen Claire Buffie. Other MSNBC TV personalities have also participated with their own eggshell crackings. And each participant invites more people to "get cracking," as the organizers put it.
Early this month, Paige and the other organizers created a new Type 1 Diabetes Egg Crack Challenge website to display the videos and offer more information on the initiative.
This video tells the story of Will and Paige, and what's happening with this challenge as it appears to be "going viral."
We connected with Paige recently to learn more about the backstory:
DM) First off, we were so sorry to hear about Will's passing... can you tell us a bit about him?
PK) In 22 short years, Will touched so many people and built the most incredible friendships and relationships. He was athletic, artistic, witty, kind, caring and tough, and he approached life with passion and gusto! He was a great friend, brother, son, cousin, and teammate, and will be missed by so many. Will was the captain of his Rollins College Men’s Lacrosse team, a very talented artist, and everyone loved his sense of humor and his ability to make every situation positive.
And now, you're leading this in his honor?
After Will’s passing, his high school friends knew that they wanted to help build Will’s legacy, and to make it as charitable, selfless, and funny as he was. I made a Buzzfeed article, tribute video, Facebook page, and Twitter feed, among other things, to help continue this challenge in Will’s honor. I am a senior at Villanova University and will be attending medical school in the fall. Will helped me through a lot of challenges as we were dating, including the loss of my best friend to Leukemia and my mother’s battle against Breast Cancer -- those made me even more motivated to help carry this challenge on in Will’s memory.
For the rest of the world, why do this Egg Crack Challenge?
Spreading awareness is so important since there are so many misconceptions that surround type 1 diabetes and many are misdiagnosed, which can be fatal. The way it works is simple: you crack, donate, and nominate. You can crack either a real egg or a plastic egg filled with any substance you like, donate to JDRF, and then nominate a few friends to join the cause!
And there's a "vegetarian" version with glitter?
In response to some comments, a new version was created called the #VeganEggCrack challenge. You take a plastic Easter egg and crack it over your head, donate to JDRF, and nominate friends. This was also created in an attempt to reach Ellen DeGeneres, who is vegan, and many young children who may be intimidated by cracking an actual egg on their head. Rather than a real egg, you fill this plastic egg with things such as glitter, confetti, soap, slime, or anything messy!
And this effort has really hit the news circuit recently...
Yes, while Will considered his witty and comical video to be a joke meant only for his friends, it has now garnered a lot of attention among various communities around the world.
Along with Will’s mom, Lyndall, we have participated in various interviews on Will’s behalf to help spread the word about the Egg Crack Challenge and Will Hauver. We've have been interviewed on multiple local news stations, including Fox 29 Philly, WJZ 13 Baltimore, W-BAL TV Baltimore, and Memphis stations, as well as on the national level.
What has the response been like?
Just great, and something we didn’t necessarily expect. Thousands have participated so far and over $52,000 has been raised for JDRF on Will’s memorial donation page, although it's estimated that thousands more have been donated that aren't even tallied yet. For example in California, packaged seafood company Chicken of the Sea donated $10,000 to JDRF, and this was not included on the site.
People all over the world have completed this challenge, including people from at least 34 different countries! This has included athletic teams, sororities, fraternities, focus groups, families, individuals and more! As noted, this challenge has garnered national and local attention from various news sources.
Most recently, it was aired on MSNBC live with Thomas Roberts, and Abby Huntsman also aired a clip taking the challenge live on her show on MSNBC. Celebrities and well-known figures such as Mario Lopez, and others like Erica Hill, Tamron Hall, Willie Geist, Abby Huntsman, Alicia Quarles, Luke Russert and more have completed the challenge! The challenge was also covered on the Today Show!
Some celebrities nominated include Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Usher (whose son has T1D), type 1 NASCAR driver Ryan Reed, type 1 singers Nick Jonas and Bret Michaels, type 1 pro football player Jay Cutler, Kenny Chesney, Black Thought from the Roots, Matt Lauer, Jessica Simpson (by Chicken of the Sea), Julie Bowen... and more!
With Easter in early April, was anything done specifically for that "egg-friendly" holiday?
Around Easter time, we promoted the Vegan Egg Crack alternative of the Egg Crack Challenge where you fill plastic Easter eggs and participate that way. There was also an event held in Maryland at the Greene Turtle of Towson the night before Easter where a group egg crack was completed, with 20% of the evening's proceeds going to JDRF; a total of $1,000 was donated from that.
Is there any goal or end point, or is it an open, ongoing effort?
There is no ending point for this challenge. Will called this the “First Annual Egg Crack Challenge” so we hope to continue this for years to come. The goal is to raise awareness and funds for type 1 diabetes so that we can ultimately help to find a cure and to end many of the misconceptions that surround the disease. We also hope to spread awareness about the common symptoms including extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and weight loss so that parents and others can watch out for these to make an early diagnosis.
In addition, we're HUGE fans of Ellen DeGeneres, and we have campaigned very hard to get this to her show. We have sent letters, called, had many people nominate her in videos, and started the #EllenEggCrack trend on Twitter. We have also posted videos on EllenTube, and have tagged her thousands of time on twitter and Facebook to try to get her attention!
We sure hope Ellen gets the message, and thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Paige!
Whether or not everyone agrees with these kind of initiatives, it is great to see all the work being done to carry on and do good in Will's name. Here's to honoring the memory of a fellow D-brother and helping out a cause that's very personal to so many of us!