Date Added: Dec. 26, 2002
Well-meaning netizens eagerly want to help children whenever they get the chance. That's why the plea of poor Amy Bruce is forwarded with abandon. But, it's also the best answer to the question "What's wrong with forwarding chain letters?"
Hi, my name is Amy Bruce.I am 7 years old, and I have severe lung cancer from second hand smoke. I also have a large tumor in my brain, from repeated beatings. The doctors say I will die soon if this isn't fixed, and my family can't pay the bills. The Make A Wish Foundation, has agreed to donate 7 cents for every name on this list. For those of you who send this along, I thank you so much, but for those who don't send it, what goes around comes around. Have a Heart, please send this. Please, if you are a kind person, send this on.
Whenever I do interviews for radio, newspapers and TV for BreakTheChain.org, the interviewer inevitably asks me "what's really so bad about chain letters." I use the Amy Bruce letter as a perfect example of the harm a seemingly innocuous chain message can do.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes for terminally ill children. They do not use e-mail chain letters to justify donating money toward necessary, life-saving treatment. In a statement on their Web site, they decry any e-mail chain bearing their name: "As a matter of policy, the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not conduct these types of wishes - including Internet and e-mail requests."
Over the years, Make-A-Wish has had to divert thousands of valuable man-hours and innumerable resources to respond to inquiries about bogus chain letters bearing their good name. These chain letters, forwarded by people who want to help, actually keep organizations from delivering valuable services to real children who actually need it.
Chains like this one can cause monumental headaches for those who forward them, as well. In late 2007, nearly ten years after this hoax first reared its ugly head, it made headlines. A senior staff member of Starship Children's Hospital in Aukland, NZ, received a version of the entreaty above in her work e-mail account and forwarded it to friends and colleagues. In a classic case of false attribution syndrome, her identity (and her contact information, as well as that of the hospital) became inextricably attached, leading many to believe she was the originator of the note.
Her seamingly innocent and well-meaing action put the hospital PR team in disaster mode and led to the staff member being verbally abused. She eventually was forced to take personal leave for stress. A hospital spokesman say the ordeal may have tarnished the institution's reputation and may hurt its fundraising efforts in the future.
Unfortunately, when we hear about a child in need, it's often a knee-jerk reaction to help - especially if it's as easy as forwarding a chain letter. As a result, this hoax has proven quite popular. Different versions have surfaced over the years, all nearly identical to the original, but with different names (Rhyan Desquetado and LaNisha Jackson to name just two). Some are intended to further the hoax, others are meant to make fun of those who fall for them. None is any truer than the original. Break this chain.
References: Make-A-Wish Foundation, ONENews, Oct. 28, 2007