The Power of a Hashtag – The #CheckIt4Andretti Story
Elysia: Hey everybody, welcome to Life is Digital. I’m your host, Elysia Cadorniga. This week get ready to learn about digital marketing as we share our knowledge and perspectives on current trends, best practices and actionable tips to help you grow your business in the digital age. We’re really excited about this podcast episode. I am pleased to have Nancy Andretti here with me with CheckIt4Andretti. Really excited; we’ve been working with the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation. And Nancy I just wanna say thank you so much for joining today. I’m really excited about this.
Nancy: Thank you for having me Elysia, I am also excited to get this conversation started.
Elysia: Absolutely, just a little, I guess, a tidbit for the audience, it’s been… Nancy, you and I actually just recently met a couple of weeks ago, but I know you’ve been working really hard with our team here to really create and take the story that you have with John and to create a foundation with purpose, and really tell your story and we’ve been very blessed to be a part of it and to help you bring that vision to life. So maybe before we get started, if you just wanna kind of tell the audience a little bit about the foundation and what you guys started to do.
How did the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation start?
Nancy: Well, the foundation started as a hashtag, my husband John was diagnosed with colon cancer, and he decided to start an awareness campaign, so we started the hashtag, CheckIt4Andretti, and we started telling people that you need to get your colonoscopy. You need to get your screening, if you’re over 50, at that time it was 50, now it’s 45, you need to get your screening, it’s so important, don’t let what happened to me happen to you and your family, it’s about more than just you, it’s about your family and the people that are around you that are affected by your illness, so he wanted to make sure that nobody had to go through what our family went through, so he started raising awareness, which was great, and then we have sort of expanded that, and I think we’ll talk about that more later, but it’s really snowballed into something bigger and better, and I think it’s gonna be very beneficial for a lot of people and to make a change, make a difference in people’s lives for the positive.
Elysia: I think prior to this episode, I was perusing through online, just kind of learning a little bit more about how this all came about, and I read one article where I believe you were speaking to a media source when you had stated from the moment he was diagnosed John, he vowed to not only fight the disease, but do everything he could to help prevent others from this diagnosis, and that’s kind of what you’re speaking on, and it sounds like he started this from a hashtag, but I’m sure he didn’t even imagine at the time what this could turn into.
What is the mission of the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation?
Nancy: I think if he was alive today, he would be blown away by the strides we have made in the foundation we have established in his honor, I wish he was here to see it. I think he can see it, even though he’s not with us, but we expanded on the hashtag and we want to help people get colonoscopies, get their screenings if they need one, if they have talked to their doctor and they need one, but they’re under-insured or uninsured, we wanna make sure that those people are served in the community and they get their screening so that this doesn’t happen to another family.
Elysia: Yeah, it’s one of those things where I don’t know that there’s enough conversation around it. I know with my family, I can speak on this a little bit, I’ve been very blessed to not lose a grandparent over it, but I’ve had two grandparents battle with colon cancer, and it’s one of those just diseases that I don’t know, that gets a lot of visibility and enough awareness around the preventative measures you have to take, and it’s not an easy disease to battle, and so I think what I’m curious to learn about a little bit more with you guys is What are some of those initiatives that you’re working on with this awareness campaign, what do you have in mind that you’re rolling out initially?
How the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation is using social media to spread its message.
Nancy: Well, right now we’re still in the fundraising stage, we just got our 501(c)(3) status in March, our website went live about a month ago, we were really just ramping up and raising funds, but the goal, once again, is to raise awareness for people to advocate for themselves, to talk to their doctor to get their screenings, and we’ve set out a couple of PSA’s on our social media channels, and we’ve also sort of started a grassroots campaign through friends and family and Facebook, and just kind of getting it out there, word of mouth, also using in addition to our social channels to get the word out.
Elysia: I feel like before in our previous conversation, maybe you can speak on it a little bit, but you guys mentioned, I think at the time, maybe it was John, where you guys started off with the hashtag and you actually ran the campaign and one of the states that you were reaching out in, and I guess one of the centers actually gave you feedback that they had an uptick in people getting… Booking actual appointments. Is that right?
Nancy: It is, it happened in Indiana, which is our home state, we have a lot of friends and family there. John has a big fan following, ’cause he’s the Hoosier and we went to get our colonoscopies there, John sister got hers there, my family all got theirs there, and the more people that went, they would say, I’m here, I’m checking it for Andretti, I’m doing this for John. And they’d say, Oh my gosh, you can’t imagine how many times we have heard that, and now there’s a long wait for colonoscopies, and we are so happy that this awareness campaign is going on and people are coming in to see us because it’s gonna make a difference there’s gonna be somebody saved because of it.
Elysia: Oh… I love that, I absolutely love that. It probably feels really good to actually be able to tangibly see that impact.
Nancy: For sure, for sure. It’s so important. And it’s what John wanted to do. He told me if I could just save one life, just make the difference in one family’s life, then I’m okay with it. So I’m sure that has happened. We’ve heard that’s happened multiple times.
Elysia: So obviously, obviously the nature of the disease, it’s not something that people really, I guess, publicly open up about a lot when it comes to just online and social media, and it almost has that weird stigma because of the nature of what it is, and I think what you guys are doing, first off, it’s empowering because you’re pretty much setting the stage for those that might be battling with something like this that can speak on their pain and their challenges and hopefully, obviously inspire others and empower others to think more proactively. So using online, ’cause I know we’re helping you obviously tell that story as well, do you guys have any initial social media strategies that you’re doing to? Are you showcasing people’s stories? Kinda walk me through what all that you’re doing online to drive the awareness.
Driving online awareness for the foundation’s mission.
Nancy: We’re trying to get testimonials, so we’re asking people, send us your stories, tell us, did you check it for Andretti or did you check it because you had a family member with it, or you were over 50, or you just heard about it somehow. Does your doctor mentioned it? It doesn’t matter. We wanna hear about it, we wanna know what made you go in to get your colonoscopy, the more people talk about it, even if it’s not related to CheckIt4Andretti, the more it’s going to seem mainstream and normal to talk about it. We need to take away the stigma from the colonoscopies, it’s not as bad as people think, and the more people share their stories, the more people that are listening are likely to get screened and that’s what we want.
Elysia: Yeah, that’s awesome. So it’s really telling those stories and allowing it to be something that people feel comfortable talking about, that’s literally how breast cancer awareness came about, there’s such a big… I mean it’s a massive campaign across multiple foundations, but what I like about what you guys are doing, and maybe you can speak on this a little bit more too, is with your vision for the foundation, you guys are wanting to tangibly have buses and actual places that people can go and get checked. Right, so that’s really the roadmap you have.
Nancy: It is. We’re trying to work with different people here in the Charlotte community, we’d like to start a pilot program, and they would be identified as needing a colonoscopy and then they would be referred to the GI doctor and they would get their colonoscopies. So it’s a system we’re mapping out, we’re gonna start it here and then I would eventually like to expand it, of course, to Indiana and Texas or all of the states, Florida that do the round up campaign through AIKG, that would be great.
Elysia: So with what you guys have been rolling out, I mean obviously, we can see, I literally get notified all day long of people engaging with you guys online, so I know the buzz is growing and it’s exciting to see that. Where do you see the foundation in the next five years, have you thought about… Have you thought about that plan? Do you visualize it in your head?
What the next 5 years look like for the CheckIt4Andretti Foundation.
Nancy: I do. I think it could be expanded, like I said, to all the different states, and I think it could be a program that’s nationwide, I think we can take it into communities that are underserved and get people colonoscopies in all those communities that need it, they’ve been screened by their doctor and diagnosed to need a colonoscopy, and I think we can get them to the right people, pay for their colonoscopies and get them the care they need with whatever happens with their colonoscopies, so that’s my vision, and I really think it can happen. I have so many people helping me, and I never realized how important the digital aspect is from this whole campaign, but it has been extremely vital to have a website, have a social media presence, and I have needed help in every aspect of that because I am not technologically savvy at all. So it’s been very important, but we’ve learned a lot and Bos Klein’s help… We have made great advances and we keep learning every day, every day I meet with somebody at Bos Klein and they are helping me with the social media calendar, or the website or the newsletter, there are so many aspects that you don’t even think of. But this is the way that we’re gonna make great strides with this foundation, this is the way we’re gonna reach people, we have to use every avenue we can to reach those… To let them know you need to get your colonoscopies, here’s where you can get help. Here’s where you can get more information, so we have to use every resource we have… And that’s what I’m trying to do.
Elysia: Yeah. Oh yeah, I totally get it. You probably didn’t expect going into it, knowing all the different avenues you can do online, it’s crazy where you have to be, how you place your content, I’m sure that that’s been pretty eye-opening to you just to see just the impact that has on the overall effectiveness of the foundation.
Nancy: It’s so important and I had no idea. And it’s the new age, we all need to move in that direction, recognize it for its importance and learn and grow from it. So I’m grateful that I’ve been able to learn. It’s hard, it’s hard for me. But every day, I get good feedback. People are responding to the posts and to the website, you’re getting more followers, you’re getting more subscribers, so it’s positive reflection that you are getting able to reach more people by getting more followers and getting more subscribers. People are talking about it, they’re reaching out to each other and they’re saying, Hey, you should follow this, should listen to this. And that’s what we wanna do. We wanna reach more people. And this is the way to do it.
Elysia: Exactly. Yeah, I can see you guys down the road even running your own podcast, having these relevant topics and these doctors or industry leaders talking about preventative measures and your goal is really just to continue telling the story and making those that have either… They know people that are dealing with this or… The goal is to really make your audience feel like it’s that important enough to take preventative action, and you’re really helping educate people and condition them to know that it’s that important, but I also think that stigma… I go back to it because I know seeing my grandparents, and I hate even using the word, but it’s like the embarrassment they even felt with the way that their lives had to change with what they went through after figuring out they had colon cancer, and it was very eye-opening to know. Even I was sitting with my grandfather at the time, and he was like, had I known how important this was to do this sooner, it could have been avoided or it could have been prevented and it’s hard to hear that. It’s not easy to hear that from him, and so I think what you guys are doing is just completely ground-breaking because people need to know how important it is, and it isn’t an afterthought, you don’t want it to be an afterthought, you want it to be something that people hold value to, and they understand it’s their lives, it’s their family, it’s their loved ones, so I think what you guys are doing is absolutely inspiring.
Nancy: Well, thank you. I don’t know about a podcast that sounds really hard, but you have confidence in me, but it’s preventable if caught early, you know, that’s what people need to understand, if you just find a pre-cancerous polyp or just a polyp that could have developed into cancer, it’s just so easy to go in there and for the doctor to take those out and… That’s it. That’s prevention right there. And how hard was that? It took a little bit of prep the day before you got the procedure and you’re done, it’s one day out of your life. People just need to know that this is just as important as getting a breast screening, this is just as important as getting a mole check for dermatology or getting skin cancer taken off your face, it’s just as important, it’s just not talked about about… I hate that it’s so unfortunate because people are dying at a younger and younger age, and that just shouldn’t be happening, you should not be dying in your 40s, your 30s of colon cancer. It just should not be happening. It’s preventable.
Elysia: Yeah, well, I love what you’re doing, and at Bos Klein, we’re so blessed to be a part of helping you guys do this, and I’m sure it’s been some education along the way, learning about different channels that we’re trying to help you tell your story, and… It’s only gonna get bigger. I love seeing the craze and the buzz already around it, I just wanna continue to see that organic growth, and I know you guys have big initiatives in store, I guess, as we kind of close here today, do you have any take away to those that are listening whether it be about the foundation, or whether it just be just words of advice or something to think about that they can leave this episode taking some sort of action.
Some final thoughts from Nancy Andretti.
Nancy: I would say my call to action is if you know a loved one that’s over 50, under 45, the age has been changed, over 45, and you know they haven’t gotten their colonoscopy, I would encourage them to encourage their loved one to go get it. There’s no reason not to get it, get your colonoscopy, talk about it, don’t be embarrassed about it, it’s preventable. And get your screening and make sure your loved ones all in your circle get their screenings as well.
Elysia: Yeah, I love that. Nancy, it’s been really great talking to you, and I love just seeing what we’re doing and where it’s headed, I wanna see this stigma in this conversation that’s kind of just… It’s just not talked about enough, and I wanna see that come to light, and I know that that’s ultimately the success out of all, is that a general awareness to save lives. So thank you so much for just jumping on with me and kind of talking through it and what you guys are doing, and we’re just really glad to be a part of it.
Nancy: Well, thank you very much for having me, you’re helping me get the word out right now, so this is a big step, and I appreciate you helping me to make that step and everything that Bos Klein has done, I would not be where I am today. The Foundation would not be where they are without all of your help, and I really appreciate everything you’ve done, so… Thank you.
Elysia: No. Thank you. I’m sure we’ll definitely have some exciting things to work on together in the near future and yeah, we just gotta keep that momentum ’cause it’s extremely important, so thank you so much and thank you for the audience also joining us today for this episode of Life is Digital. We always have to stop and take a moment to think about the difference that we’re making in the world and the power of digital and what that can do in instances like this, and… So it’s just something that as a takeaway for those listening to just keep and remember and to bring some more awareness to it and to reach out to your loved ones, and so again, I’m your host Elysia Cadorniga please remember just to tune in. Rate us, review, subscribe to the show, I guess until next time, don’t stop marketing.