Stuart Henshilwood is a South African father of 2 (and for full disclosure, my former boss). His 9 year old son, Nic, recently had his thyroid and some lymph nodes removed after a lump was found in his throat two weeks ago.
- Of the eleven lymph nodes they removed, seven were cancerous. In the next few days, Nic is undergoing radiated iodine therapy to hopefully rid his body of any remaining cancer cells. He'll have his favorite stuffed animal - a rabbit - with him in the room for support. After the therapy, because everything around him will be radioactive, his clothes, bedding and yes, the rabbit, will have to be destroyed. Stuart and his wife Barbara wanted to find a replacement rabbit for Nic post therapy recovery. Nic knows it won't be his original 'teammate', but the bunny double will help him with the rest of his recovery. Nic got the rabbit from his aunt, who bought it from a local department store Woolworths while Barbara was pregnant. Nic's had it all his life and the two became inseparable. In an effort to fine a replacement rabbit, Stuart did what any 21st Century father would, he turned to social media, posting this (along with a picture of the bunny) on his Facebook page:
"Nic is going for his Radiated Iodine therapy very soon and will be in isolation for up to 3 days, after which his PJ's and bedding will be incinerated. He will feel better with Rabbit (pictured) but unfortunately he will be incinerated too! We are desperately trying to find the same rabbit to act as a body double! He was bought at Woolies about 10 years ago. If anybody has one like this , I will happily buy it from you! please let me know.....we know Nic is always brave with his team mate!"
- The story made its way from Facebook to Twitter
- People from all over the country spread the word and soon the hashtag #Rabbit4Nic was trending in South Africa
- Social media users reached out to DJ's from the national radio station 5FM. A friend of the family put the plea on his blog, and soon local media picked up the story. Barbara even went on a local talk radio station with Nic to talk about the bunny.
- Popular South African magazine You (along with its Afrikaans version Huisgenoot) also made an effort to find a replacement, sharing Stuart's original post on their Facebook page. It didn't take long...
- In the end, it was Facebook that saved the day
- But the magazine didn't want to stop there, they kept going
- Twitter users across South Africa were deeply impacted
- Here's Chane with the bunny. In English, the tweet reads "We found him!"
- In a country where Twitter is still catching on, users realized it's potential
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