For those who say social media is narcissistic and pointless, I give you the power of community. In 13 days, inspired and dedicated volunteers produced Seattle #GeekRoast and raised over $50,000 to benefit Nick Magnotti's cancer treatments.
While geeks everywhere extolled the virtues of the palindromic 11-11-11 date, a group of geeks gathered at the Marriott Redmond Town Center to raise money, hope and spirit for 25-year-old Nick Magnotti, recently diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer. Even more amazing is the fact that the event was organized 100% by volunteers over just 13 days. The result? Over 280 guests crowded into a banquet room (donated by Marriott) to support young NIck and his wife Alyssa.
Donated silent auction items and prizes were piled high on tables; donated pastries were gobbled up; and geeks laughed out loud at gentle roasts. Even surprise guests Boba Fett and a storm trooper pitched in, offering to take photos with any attendee for a donation to the cause!
Primary organizer Peter Chee told the story of the rapid-fire event's conception:
Two weeks ago I sat in the office with Alyssa and said “I have a proposal, I’m wondering if you and Nick would allow us to try and do a fundraiser for you guys. Shauna and I were on the phone last night and we thought it might be good to do something different — create an event called Seattle Geek Roast and blend it together with an fundraiser/auction”.
What happened next was amazing. This is a testimony not to the ephemeral tools of social media but to the power of the human spirit and unquenchable desire to create and support a community:
After launching the website “www.seattlegeekroast.com” in two days (kudos to Savannah Bridge for designing the Seattle Geek Roast header), we created a volunteer page that had 37 volunteer positions listed on it and in less than 2 days we had nearly 30 positions filled.
In his excellent writeup of the event, Julian Michael recaps Nick Magnotti's story:
Nick has been diagnosed with Mucinous Adenocarcimona of the Appendix, which is a rare form of cancer typically found in patients in their 60’s and older. As a result of a late diagnosis, the cancer has masked itself without showing any obvious signs (as it is known to do) and has spread throughout his abdominal cavity. This form of cancer typically masks itself from visibility because it sits inside the fluids around the abdominal cavity nearly undetectable until reaching a late-stage nature, according to Alyssa Magnotti.
“This type of cancer cannot be beaten,” said Alyssa in a positive tone of voice, “but we’re gonna beat this for as long as possible!”
Normally the term Stage IV is reserved for type of cancer that has spread into the lymphatic system or blood stream. However, in Nick’s case, Stage IV means that his cancer is not contained within one organ and that it is technically inoperable, meaning a surgeon cannot make a 100-percent promise to remove all the cancerous cells.
It sounds ominous, but the community rallied in an overwhelmingly positive and touching night to show that none of us is alone. In particular speaker My Tam Nguyen, currently in the midst of kicking cancer's ass herself, shared some touching thoughts in her talk: “It’s when we’re at the point of living and dying that we learn the true meaning of life.”
I was profoundly moved by the generosity of the community to come out for its members and for the individuals Alyssa and Nick who were courageous enough to share their story, their fears and their fantastic cockiness so openly with the community. As Jenni Hogan blogged, "Cheers to amazing people coming together to rally for others' causes."
Excellent photo collection of the event by Blandon Bleek photography is here. If you missed the event and want to donate, you can help in one of these ways:
- Write a check to “Nick Magnotti Benevolent Fund” and mail your check to Thinkspace, c/o Nick Magnotti Fund, 8201 164th Ave NE, Suite 200 Redmond, WA 98052
- Drop off a check at a BECU Branch and note it’s for the “Nick Magnotti Benevolent Fund”.
- Go to NCF Seattle and click on “Benevolence & Ministry Funds” on the right hand side of the website and find the “Donate” button next to “Nick Magnotti Fund”.