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Slow Dance Charity Hoax

Outline
Email forward that features a poem called "Slow Dance" claims that the poem was written by a seriously ill young girl and that the American Cancer Society will donate money to help the child every time the message is forwarded.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are false. The American Cancer Society will certainly not donate money based on how many times an email is forwarded. Sending on the email will help nobody. The email is just one in a long line of absurd hoaxes that claim that money will be donated in exchange for forwarding an email. Any message that makes such a claim is sure to be a hoax and should not be sent on.

Detailed analysis and references below example.
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Last updated: 21st December 2010
First published: 12th March 2005
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: FW: Slow Dance - A Last Request.

I don't normally send these on....but this one brought a lump to my throat.....

_______________________________

This is a poem written by a teenager with cancer.

She wants to see how many people get her poem. It is quite the poem. Please pass it on. This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital. It was sent by a medical doctor.

Make sure to read what is in the closing statement AFTER THE POEM.

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,"Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.

The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift.....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

--------------------

FORWARDED E-MAILS ARE TRACKED TO OBTAIN THE TOTAL COUNT.

Dear All:
PLEASE pass this mail on to everyone you know - even to those you don't know! It is the request of a special girl who will soon leave this world due to cancer.

This young girl has 6 months left to live, and as her dying wish, she wanted to send a letter telling everyone to live their life to the fullest, since she never will.

She'll never make it to prom, graduate from high school, or get married and have a family of her own

By you sending this to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope, because with every name that this is sent to, The American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents per name to her treatment and recovery plan. One guy sent this to 500 people! So I know that we can at least send it to 5 or 6. It's not even your money, just your time!

PLEASE PASS ON AS A LAST REQUEST

Dr. Dennis Shields, Professor
Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, New York 10461




Detailed Analysis
This hoax email has been circulating almost continually since at least 2005. The message claims that, for every time that the email is forwarded to another person, the American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents to help pay for a "treatment and recovery plan" to help a terminally ill child. According to the message, recipients can therefore help this child simply by sending on the message to as many people as possible.

However, the claims in the message are untrue. The American Cancer Society certainly will not donate money every time the message is forwarded. In fact, the message is just one more in a long line of foolish hoaxes that claim that an email is being tracked in some way and that money will be donated every time a message is forwarded. Such claims are simply absurd. No legitimate company or organization would agree to donate money based on how many times a particular email is forwarded. Furthermore, there is no reliable, or ethical, method of tracking the journey of one particular email that may ultimately be forwarded thousands of times. Any message that attempts to convince recipients that a charitable campaign relies on the random forwarding of an email is sure to be a hoax.

"Slow Dance", the poem tacked onto the top of the email, was not written by "a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital" or a "teenager with cancer". In fact, the piece was penned by David L. Weatherford, poet and child psychologist. "Slow Dance" can be viewed on the poet's website.

The American Cancer Society has denied any involvement and has the following disclaimer on its website:
The email is thought to be a revised version of an email that has been around in some form or another since at least 1997. The American Cancer Society is in no way involved in this effort, and never lends its name to chain emails. We certainly do understand the good intentions of those who respond to the email, and hope people who do want to help will find legitimate ways to assist the millions of cancer patients who rely on reputable organizations to improve the daily lives of cancer survivors, and reduce the suffering caused by cancer.
Furthermore, the email was not sent by Dr. Dennis Sheilds as claimed. Although Dr. Dennis Sheilds is a real person, and a faculty member at the Albert Einstein College Of Medicine, it appears that his name was added to the message without his permission. A page on the AECOM website states that:
Dr. Dennis Sheilds is a faculty member at AECOM and he does have an e-mail address. However, information received from earlier complaints show that his name was signed to the message but it was not sent from his e-mail address. This suggests that this message is a forgery.
The hoax appears to have evolved out of an earlier hoax that named the dying child as Jessica Mydek (See example below). According to the ACS, "the story of Jessica Mydek has never been substantiated. The American Cancer Society does not endorse fundraising efforts using chain letters of any kind."

This email and others like it should be deleted rather than forwarded. Forwarding such messages does nothing whatsoever to help sick children. In fact, such hoaxes cause unnecessary problems for organizations such as the American Cancer Society who must waste precious time and resources responding to queries about such supposed charity campaigns. If you receive this hoax message or another like it, please do not make the problem worse by sending it on to others. And please take a moment to let the sender know that the message is a hoax.

Earlier Version
LITTLE JESSICA MYDEK IS SEVEN YEARS OLD AND IS SUFFERING FROM AN ACUTE AND VERY RARE CASE OF CEREBRAL CARCINOMA. THIS CONDITION CAUSES SEVERE MALIGNANT BRAIN TUMORS AND IS A TERMINAL ILLNESS. THE DOCTORS HAVE GIVEN HER SIX MONTHS TO LIVE.

AS PART OF HER DYING WISH, SHE WANTED TO START A CHAIN LETTER TO INFORM PEOPLE OF THIS CONDITION AND TO SEND PEOPLE THE MESSAGE TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND ENJOY EVERY MOMENT, A CHANCE THAT SHE WILL NEVER HAVE. FURTHERMORE, THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY AND SEVERAL CORPORATE SPONSORS HAVE AGREED TO DONATE THREE CENTS TOWARD CONTINUING CANCER RESEARCH FOR EVERY NEW PERSON THAT GETS FORWARDED THIS MESSAGE. PLEASE GIVE JESSICA AND ALL CANCER VICTIMS A CHANCE. IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, SEND THEM TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY AT ACS@AOL.COM



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References
Charity Hoaxes
David L. Weatherford
Slow Dance
ACS: Slow Dance
Dr.Dennis Shields and chain mail about girl with cancer
ACS: Jessica Mydek

Last updated: 21st December 2010
First published: 12th March 2005
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

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