One of the most common questions we are asked here at AIM by patients, families, and friends is How can I help?
We usually answer with a question: What interests you? We strive to have a variety of opportunities for those who want to volunteer.
For those who tell us that they want to fundraise or that they want to help push research forward, we offer a number of different ways to help raise money for research. One of the simplest ways is a birthday fundraiser through Facebook.
Are you interested? If you are already on Facebook, you’re halfway there.
Here’s how it works: Two weeks before your birthday, Facebook will ask if you want to dedicate your birthday to support a cause. You then choose a non-profit that you want to support and set a donation goal as well as your fundraiser’s end date. Your friends are notified of your cause on your actual birthday, and you can also invite your friends directly to the fundraiser, so they’ll feel personally compelled to donate. That’s it. Facebook takes care of the rest and promptly sends AIM the funds.
Facebook allows you to create other fundraisers, too. You can create a fundraiser around any holiday or cause that you decide is important to you; Facebook’s platform will help you do it. Bur birthdays are the most common fundraiser we see.
One of our Facebook birthday fundraisers is Stephanie Conte of Brisbane, Australia. Originally from the central valley in California, Stephanie lost her brother, Tony, to melanoma in 2019.
Tony was an artist from the time he was a child. As Stephanie put it, he soon found his passion, which was the film industry, specifically film editing. He moved to Los Angeles, which became his home. He did the editing for a number of different channels/streaming services, including the SciFi Network, E! Television, and Netflix.
Tony had a mole removed from the back of his leg in 2011. It wasn’t sufficiently excised; this he found out a number of years later when he discovered a bump in the lymph nodes in his leg a couple of days before a trip to Italy. He thought it might be a sign of mononucleosis, but he was wrong; the melanoma had spread. It was 2017. By April 2019 he was Stage IV. He enrolled in clinical trials in June, but unfortunately passed away on November 17, 2019.
From everything Stephanie has shared about Tony, we know he was special. He was 18 months younger than his sister, and—as she wrote on AIM’s Memorial page–Tony “loved to see the world, was fascinated by the concept of time, and had a childlike heart that never waned.”
Stephanie now understands how vital it is to surround yourself with loved ones when going through treatment for a disease like melanoma, even if all you want to do is isolate yourself and push people away. “He had an unwavering support system in his friends from Los Angeles,” she says. “They took him to his appointments and were his moral support throughout his treatments. He honestly would have been lost without them.”
Now that she is living in Australia, she sees quite vividly the differences between the U.S. response to melanoma and the Australian response.
“Australians are passionate about skin checks. There are facilities all over, generally one within five miles of the next,” she says. “And there are awareness commercials on TV. In the U.S. people think ‘it’s just skin cancer’. They don’t take it as seriously as the Australians do.”
The loss of her brother is devastating for Stephanie, but she is determined to celebrate her brother’s life every day, as well as through her birthdays—and to raise money for melanoma research in the process. Stephanie uses Facebook to raise money for AIM in her brother’s honor and memory.
“It’s super easy,” she says of raising money through birthdays on Facebook. “I was overwhelmed by how much I was able to raise.” They have a large family, she explains, as well as high school friends and friends in Australia. “It’s an easy ask,” Stephanie notes.
AIM at Melanoma is fortunate to have many people each month—just like Stephanie—who raise funds through Facebook. Some raise a small amount; others raise a lot. All of these dollars are important and appreciated.
In the last year of his life, Tony underwent clinical trial treatments in order for more studies to be done to help cure this awful disease. We’re happy to continue his efforts with the funds his sister raises—all of those funds go to research.
We hope this article spurs even more interest in Facebook birthday fundraisers. As one melanoma patient noted to us, “I use my birthday to fundraise for melanoma research, because it is research that has allowed me to continue having birthdays.”