Styles touches heart of local girl

COMMENTARY BY:
SARAH MUELLER

My friend alerted me last week to a growing Twitter campaign happening right in Scranton’s backyard. Recent Dunmore High School graduate Kelcey Hallihan has been courageously battling a rare form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma since December 2011. She was in recovery for a short amount of time, but on Sept. 4 she was transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Kelcey wanted to meet Harry Styles of One Direction. The Make-a-Wish Foundation approved her request; however, because Kelcey had to be readmitted to CHOP, she was unfortunately unable to meet the pop icon.

When four of Kelcey’s friends went to visit her at the hospital Sept. 6, they decided to launch an effort to get Styles’ attention on Twitter. Encouraging their friends to tweet #HarryTweetKelcey, the Dunmore grads started a viral phenomenon. The message #HarryTweetKelcey became a Twitter top trending topic by the night of Sept. 7. It was retweeted by hundreds of Twitter users and was even shared by Katie Couric and the Livestrong Foundation. E!, Perez Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Jason Mraz informed their Twitter followers of the campaign by the following week.

“Holy cow, this is crazy,” Kelcey’s mother said, according to a Times-Tribune article. “Kelcey is just sitting on her hospital bed, glued to her phone.”

Thanks to the irresistibly inspirational campaign, Styles took note of #HarryTweetKelcey, tweeting on Sept. 8, “Hi @kelceyhal it’s nice to ‘meet’ you. I’m thinking about you…And sending you all my love. H .xx”

Kelcey’s mother said her daughter was so excited that her oxygen had to be adjusted.

Little did Kelcey know, shortly after Styles’ tweet The Make-a-Wish Foundation asked Harry if he would accommodate a Skype call to Kelcey, to which he eagerly agreed.

“I wasn’t expecting it, so I was very excited when he came up on my computer screen!” Kelcey said. “It was like talking to a normal person, not a famous person — like talking to a friend. He’s a genuinely nice person.”
Styles even gave Kelcey his cell phone number, telling her to text him at any time.

“For one afternoon, Kelcey didn’t have to think about being sick. She was just really happy,” Kelcey’s mother said in the article.

The immense love that Kelcey received is amazing. Kelcey’s mother commented on the support they received.

“They take care of each other, even if they don’t know each other. Dunmore takes care of Dunmore,” her mother said.

Last semester, I had the fantastic opportunity to observe an English class at Dunmore High School as a requirement for my education class and teacher candidacy. I can attest for the love that Dunmore students have for one another. The genuine care that the students display for each other inspired me every day of my observation. What Kelcey’s friends did for her only further proved this point. Dunmore really does take care of Dunmore, as Kelcey’s mother proclaimed.

Scranton also takes care of Dunmore. Scrolling through my Twitter feed last week, I saw so many emotionally-driven posts supporting the #HarryTweetKelcey movement as the campus community stepped up to support the Dunmore grad. This worldwide campaign happened so close to home, and from what I saw, The University definitely did its part in contributing to it. Every retweet, every attempt to shed light on Kelcey’s cause, strengthened the Scranton/Dunmore community.

This movement advocates the value of a tight-knit community — something that The University, as well as Dunmore students, definitely value — as well as the overwhelming effect that one altruistic action can have worldwide. Styles is a global icon. The fact that he personally reached out to someone in this way should be noted and should inspire others to reach out to those in need, just as Kelcey’s friends reached out for her.

Contact the writer: sarah.mueller@scranton.edu

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