Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are often heavily criticized by parents, teachers, and other various people, being labeled as a "distraction", an "obsession", and an "irrational use of the web."
But we at ONCEKids believe that social media accomplishes its original purpose -- to connect us. When experiencing moments of doubt in my previous statement, which i admittedly occasionally do, it is stories like the story of Blake Cognata which lift me up from this momentary hesitation and make me a supporter and believer in the power social media.
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Blake Cognata is a high school senior at Fairport High School, a suburb of Rochester, New York, who received life changing news last February when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the bones. This diagnosis forced him to give up playing the sports that he loves, football and lacrosse. His condition took another turn for the worst when in October, with just one remaining treatment in his chemotherapy, the doctors found that the cancer had spread throughout his entire body. The pain became too much to bear and he was admitted into Strong Hospital over the weekend.
All over Twitter his friends and family provided support and encouragement for Cognata with hashtags such as #findyourstrong and #staystrongblake, but it was the idea of Fairport High graduate, Dylan George, that truly demonstrated the power social networking sites like Twitter can have. With the knowledge that Minnesota Vikings' player Adrian Peterson was Cognata's hero, George decided to start the hashtag trend #APCallBlake. WIthin an hour and a half of starting the hashtag, the phone was ringing beside Cognata's hospital bed- and on the other line was Adrian Peterson.
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Cognata's mother, Diane, reports that "he told Blake not to give up and asked how long he had been sick. Then he told Blake that he had his personal cell number and to call him anytime he wanted to talk to someone. He's a very spiritual man and talked to Blake about his faith." She also said how despite the fact that the disease had spread to just about every bone in his body and he was in a tremendous amount of pain, even just a five minute phone conversation with his football hero was enough to have him "glowing" all night.
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If it wasn't for sites such as Twitter, events such as these would be much more difficult, nearly impossible. Something such as a phone conversation may seem like a simple thing to some people, but to people like Cognata it can mean so much more.