It's not often that the end product of the power of social good and the internet takes place in a parking complex in West Yorkshire, but recently it did thanks to a world wide campaign to help a local man's car obsessed son.
We’ve often talked about how the internet can be used for good, how social media can hypercharge charity campaigns and how we can just use technology to make the world a generally nicer place. Internet kindness has the power to transcend it’s digital constraints and create a difference in the real world; something that I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand a couple of weeks ago at Connor’s Day – an impromptu car show that attracted car fanatics from across the country.
The event, which attracted over a 1,200 cars, was set up in just a week and a half after a user on the Subaru enthusiast website Scooby Net called Zippy found out his son Connor had a terminal illness. Knowing that his son had two inoperable tumours and only four weeks to live he decided to give Connor one last great day and posted a heartfelt plea to the Scooby Net forum hoping to arrange a car meet in the small West Yorkshire town of Meltham.
It was almost impossible to predict the magnitude of the response. Immediately users of the forum offered their support and their cars. The response was so great that the popular car blog Jalopnik picked up the news story and then the event truly became global. Even non-car specialist blogs such as The Huffington Post, one of America’s largest blogs, started reporting on the event.
In the week that followed thousands people registered their cars to be on show, people offered their skills to help set up the event and professional rally driver Alex Roy announced that he would be attending.
On the 8th of September, just 11 days after the original forum post, Connor’s day was underway. All the planning, social media and internet news coverage paid off as cars overflowed the parking complex, lining the roads for two miles in either direction. In the glorious sunshine alloys gleamed, engines revved and most importantly of all there was one very happy 11-year-old boy.
Even just a few years ago an event of this scale simply wouldn’t have been possible to organise in as such a short period of time. The advances and widespread adoption of social media have now made it possible though. In less than two weeks a man was able to turn the hope of giving his son a day to remember into one of the largest car shows that the region has ever seen. And all that was needed was a computer and the kindness of strangers.
Connor lost his battle just before Christmas and his funeral took place on Christmas Eve. The family have released photographs of Connor’s Day as a tribute.