You hear about people going viral all of the time. You see it in social media, you hear it on the news – you most definitely watch friends do amazing things or write witty updates that find them retweeted or shown on tv, yes, I have those friends. But I am not sure that I ever considered something in my life going viral – or sort of in my life.
Going viral is not something you expect. And it rarely happens when you’re ready.
The first time my daughter went viral was while I was taking ibuprofen to manage a spiking fever and trying to take as many naps as possible. But, something strange started happening. An article about my daughter Jordan’s Superhero Cyborg adventure was featured on Fast Company’s website. The article spread like wildfire.
Since it caught fire over Spring Break, I think Jordan was shielded a bit from noticing how far her story was going. Luckily, most of it was on the web and she doesn’t spend her time surfing social media or various pop culture websites. But she really likes Kid President. So when his site tweeted about her and posted a link on Facebook, that got her pretty excited. Way more than an article on Fast Company or TODAY.com. But an article in Nerdist? That was cool. Jordan also liked having a chance to talk to journalists and writers. Living with parents who are journalists means she knows many people in the business and is very comfortable with interviews.
That viral moment was like many other viral moments, it faded a bit. But it opened up new and incredible opportunities for us to tour Maker Faire events and attend an incredible event with the U.S. Health and Human Services. It also opened our eyes on how Jordan and I were helping raise awareness about the opportunities that come from a physical disability. Jordan sees design differently from a typically able person. I wanted to help her keep growing that understanding. Jordan wanted more kids to have opportunities like hers. So, the first viral burst put me in motion to turn our blog into a non-profit.
As I was working on that process, the viral burst happened again. This time, I had a few days warning. Jordan was invited to present her invention to the Shark Tank as the investors were promoting their new season on The Rachael Ray Show. My effort to move forward to reveal the nonprofit was put into full speed as CNN released a new article just days after the show. I started selling t-shirts to raise money for the nonprofit. Social media burst open again and new articles were released all over the place. This time, I learned to limit the number of interviews Jordan conducted to one a day. I learned from our previous experience that I didn’t need to say yes immediately to every media request. Taking our time also let the story of our organization and Jordan’s work extend across more days.
The difference between these viral moments and many others? It was a really positive moment to show how a limb difference can be a benefit: It gave kids a chance to learn to take advantage of a non-traditional body. Kids can learn about design and use limitless imagination. The media attention helped bring in some donations. We signed with literary agents! We got a deal for a middle-grade book that will come out in summer 2019. Jordan and I were able to speak to audiences large and small. Even more amazing? Jordan was invited to speak at two different TEDx events in the same year!
Jordan will remain just the same Jordan. She is even more proud of Project Unicorn. She probably has a little more motivation toward her long-time goal of building out our YouTube channel. Who knows. These viral moments have shown us anything is possible!