My 32nd birthday was on December 6th. Thanks to the inspirational chat I had with Adam Braun from PencilsofPromise.org, instead of asking for something for myself this year, I decided to start a campaign to give back and build schools in Ghana.
I set the campaign goal to $25,000 within a week. My family also decided that for every dollar donated up to $25k, we would match it. If the community reached its $25k goal, we'd put in $25k ourselves and together be able to build two schools in Ghana by early next year.
On my birthday, I sent an email and a few status updates on social media to the SPI community who had expressed interest in getting involved when I had teased the idea of building schools with Pencils of Promise earlier in the year.
When I woke up the morning of December 12th, I saw this text message from Chris Ducker that came in overnight:
The best wake-up ever.
Within 6 days, the campaign was fully funded and it was so exciting to watch it all happen. Even my 4-year old son got involved and every morning he asked to see how much we had raised.
By the time my birthday week had ended, the SPI community donated a total of $26,251.00 – actually surpassing the goal as people still wanted to get involved. I literally cried a few times while watching the donations and the messages come in on the campaign page.
Thank you, on behalf of my entire family, for your generosity. It blew us away.
News from Pencils of Promise
Later on the 12th, I received an email from the Pencils of Promise Team, including Adam Braun himself, who shared some cool news:
Besides being one of the fastest funded campaigns, 24 countries got involved and donated to the campaign, which became their widest reaching campaign in history! We set a record people!
As I've said many times in the past, the SPI community is definitely the best and most supportive community online – and I think this proves it. Whether you donated to the campaign yourself, shared it or even if you're just a casual reader who stumbled upon this article – you are making a difference!
Today, my family was happy to put in our match of $25,000 – and I couldn't feel any better! Look where we are at now:
Without even asking, the donations seem to still be coming in from you, which is amazing! I'm not sure when the campaign will officially end but I knew it was going to be up at least until my donation had been processed. As long as people still want to get involved, however, I'd love to keep it up.
If you're still interested in being a part of history with me, you can check out the campaign here.
Another Reason the SPI Community is Awesome!
I also noticed that we raised more money than any other individual AND team during this Season of Promise:The SPI community donations alone would have surpassed all individual and team fundraisers. All I can say is…you rule.
I know I've said “thank you” too many times in this post already, but I'm sorry—I'm just so excited about all of this and so incredibly grateful for the SPI community and all that we're doing together.
There are nearly 400 people who donated, donating amounts ranging from $1.00 to into the thousands. I wish I could send a personal message to each and every one of you (I've already sent a couple hundred!) and give you a shout out here on the blog too, but you all know who you are and how I feel about you. I love you for what you did, and so thankful for your support.
Next year, I hope to travel to Ghana to see the schools already built and meet the children who are learning in them. I'll keep you posted all along the way, and like I mentioned on the campaign page, I definitely want to take a videographer with me to be able to film the entire trip.
For each of the schools built, I get to include dedication text that will go on a plaque that will be mounted to the front of the school. One of the schools I'm dedicating to my family. The other, I'm dedicating to you, the SPI community. You'll see it when I make my way there.
I also want to thank Pencils of Promise, an amazing organization that truly embodies the spirit of giving who gave me the easy opportunity to think bigger and give back in this way. It was such a great experience working with the entire PoP team.
If you're interested in doing something similar, you can visit PencilsofPromise.org. You can also listen to me and Adam on a podcast interview so you can get a true understanding of how all of this got started.
Finally, a lot of people were asking “why this campaign” or “why not this one instead”, and all of these other initiatives I could have spent my time, money, influence and effort on. Trust me, I'm going to keep giving back in many different ways to many different causes over time—this is just the beginning. I wanted to start with PoP and Adam because he was the one who inspired me to give back in a way that's beyond myself and my immediate world.
And with that, Happy Holidays to you and yours. To all of you who took the time to read this today—Thank you!