When Jess Fosburg was in the midst of moving in to her dorm at Kutztown University this past September, she was given news that drastically changed the course of her semester.
“I just wanted to leave,” said Fosburg, a freshman art education major. “I was sick about it. She’s my best friend. But she wouldn’t let me. She said, ‘You can’t leave school. You have to do this.’”
On the second day of her college experience, Fosburg found out her mother, Patti Coyne Powell, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, a devastating realization for Fosburg and her three siblings, one of which is just two years old.
Treatments make it impossible for Coyne Powell to continue working as an elementary school teaching assistant, leaving her with very little money to support her children and to afford rent.
“She’s the kind of person who doesn’t ask for help,” Fosburg said. “She puts her kids first every single day.”
Coyne Powell is reluctant to turn to others for assistance, but her family has set up a Give Forward account, which has since raised more than $5,000.
Fosburg said the $5,000 raised has allowed Coyne Powell to continue paying rent and other expenses.
However, last Sunday Fosburg’s uncle, Temple alumnus Tim CoyneSmith, hatched a plan to help his sister-in-law.
Three weeks ago CoyneSmith’s co-worker submitted a video in Lenovo’s Viral Video Contest, an in-house competition offered for employees. The contest promises $50,000 to the first contestant to reach 500,000 views by Jan. 31.
“I said to him, ‘Listen, I have an idea about how we may be able to get this video more views and get it to 500,000, but would you consider giving some of the money to this fund?’” said CoyneSmith, a 1991 graduate of Temple.
CoyneSmith said his co-worker agreed to run the proposal by his wife and see what he could do. What happened next was better than he ever expected.
“He came back and said, ‘I asked my wife, and we’ve decided if we win [we’ll] donate the full $50,000,” CoyneSmith said.
Prior to CoyneSmith’s collaboration, his co-worker’s video had a little more than 30,000 views, he said. Now the video has more than 38,000.
Though he says it isn’t probable for the video to get to 500,000 views by the Jan. 31 deadline, he is hopeful.
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” CoyneSmith said. “While it’s a long shot, it’s a shot worth taking.”
Both Fosburg and CoyneSmith said they’re amazed at how much positive attention the story has received through social media and hope that continuing to spread the word about the contest on sites like Instagram and Facebook will help, even if they don’t win.
With the $50,000, Fosburg said her mother would not only be able to better afford basic necessities and her treatments, but her life would improve drastically.
“I’m going to be commuting next year,” Fosburg said. “I’m looking for a new car, so when we talked about the money she said, ‘We can get you a new car.’ It was just insane. I was like, ‘No, no, we’re not doing that.’”
“It would make it possible to keep living,” Fosburg added. “Cancer is also a mental thing, so if you can get yourself mentally in it – that’s important.”
Fosburg said that when they first began raising money for her mother, Coyne Powell had no idea just how many people would respond.
“I don’t think she realized how many people really love and care about her,” Fosburg said. “She’s loving, forgiving and just cares about other people so much. Even if we don’t win – getting this publicity is still an incredible journey to be on.”
Alexa Bricker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org