Supporters, family and friends of Anissa Mayhew are showing the world the power of social media.
While some people only see social media tools like Facebook and Twitter as means for people to broadcast random and menial updates about what people are doing or thinking, fans of Mayhew are showing how they can be used to disseminate information and rally support.
Tuesday afternoon Mayhew, a popular "mom blogger" and tweeter here in Atlanta suffered a stroke. It was the second stroke for the mother of three. The first was a minor one in 2005.
Not long after news broke that she had collapsed, posted by her husband, Peter, on his Facebook page, prayers for the family were being pledged on Facebook. That was at 1:37 p.m. Tuesday.
By 7:33 p.m., Mayhew’s husband posted on her Facebook page: “Prayers are needed for Anissa. She had a stroke this afternoon and is in the ICU. Peter.”
Since it happened Tuesday, Twitter and blogs have exploded with people expressing concern, said Kelby Carr, a former journalist and fan of Mayhew’s. (Here's the Twitter link.)
By Wednesday night, there were almost 350 blog posts about Mayhew’s stroke.
“There has been a Paypal account set up to raise money to help [the family] during this time, and ConAgra is donating Visa gift cards,” said Carr. “Anissa is a pretty amazing force, just bursting with life and personality. People from around the world are thinking of her and worried about her.”
For 11 years, the Mayhews have been married. Their son Nathaniel is a 11, Rachel is 8 and Peyton is 5.
They are no strangers to health scares. In addition to this being Anissa’s second stroke, they were once faced with their daughter, Peyton’s battle with leukemia. During that time Mayhew created a blog, Hope4Peyton, to chronicle their experiences with the disease. That was in 2006.
After that she “launched a new blog called #FreeAnissa,” she writes in one of her “About Me” sections.
After news spread about the stroke, Heather Spohr and other family friends began updating Twitter and other blogs and created a page at CaringBridge.org (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/anissamayhew).
“A small group of friends, including myself, have stayed in contact with [Peter] and are putting out the information the family wants made public,” said Spohr. “Some of us are local, most are not.”
Just 24 hours after news got out about her medical situation, over 25,000 people visited the page, said Carr. By Thursday evening, that number had doubled.
So far there have been seven updates made on the page, the most recent one being that Peter spent the day at home with the kids while Anissa’s sister and friends stayed with her at the hospital.
“Apparently she had lots of eye movement this am,” he writes. “Encouraging.”
And on Twitter, friends have started a “trending topic,” #prayersforanissa, which is a tag included in ones tweets so that others with the same tag can easily be found on the Website.
Wednesday night Carr reported at least 1,500 tweets had been sent in support of Mayhew.
The Mayhews’ crisis and the cyber world’s response to it is a perfect example of the effect social media has today, said Carr.
“Social networking has made it possible for one mom to affect the whole world and for her crisis to become a crisis for thousands of people,” she said. “A decade ago, this would have only been a local story. Now it's an international one.”
What was once something neighborly, like neighbors bringing over “freezer lasagna,” is now a means for the whole world to rally money and food, she added.
“It means she and her family can be supported and helped on a massive scale.”
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