Mary Kumenok, a student at Louisiana State University, began her capstone class with little thought about how working with a client would end up being the best experience she could have ever asked for.
She was assigned to work for Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) for the semester. She was disappointed in her group members who hardly contributed to the workload and loathed the fact that she would have to pick up the slack.
She was asked to write a news release about an upcoming event. It was about a man who had lost his daughter, Abigail, and was biking from Wisconsin to Louisiana as a tribute to her and hoped to meet the man who received his daughter’s organs, Jack, during the journey. In addition to the emotional appeal of this story, it just happened to work out that the meeting of these two men would happen on Father’s Day.
The heart recipient, Jack, was a college student who had a heart attack and woke up with Abigail Connor’s heart. Jack wanted to do the meet Abigail’s father, Bill, on camera with the hopes that the story would encourage others to become organ donors.
LOPA, who arranged the meeting, brought a stethoscope for Bill to hear the heartbeat, a doppler machine for everyone else to be able to hear the heartbeat, and a recorder for Bill to keep.
Mary Kumenok’s news release was sent out and had a huge response rate. News outlets jumped on the opportunity to cover the story. Her news release was even picked up by BBC London.
The meeting of Bill and Jack happened on Father’s Day as planned and the video instantly went viral. Over one million views in the first few days and over 3.3 million in the first week. Requests poured into LOPA for permission to share the video. As of today, the video has over 100 million trackable views, in 18 languages, on 6 continents. Even outlets in North Korea requested permission to distribute the video.
During the process of their story going viral, LOPA tried to focus on their brand recognition and integrity. They asked each person who wanted to use their content to include the LOPA logo, an organ donor registry website, and a channel where viewers could go to get more information.
Their first and most important goal was to honor Abigail and her father Bill’s efforts to honor her memory. Their second goal was to advocate for organ donation.
The heart recipients father became a huge advocate for organ donation after it saved his son, Jack’s life. He used to believe in the myths told about organ donations before but got educated when his son was in need. The video caused organ registration to go up in every state throughout the US.
This video may have gone viral because it was so organic. Two people having a genuine connection. Mary Kumenok never thought a news release project would turn into a viral video. I learned it is important to take every chance given to you because you never know the outcome.
If you would like to be a donor you can register at Registry.org. If you would like to know more about the story you can watch a video here.