LAKEWOOD, Ohio – Like most 20-somethings, Alex Sheen is glued to social media.
Yet, the Lakewood man has recently sparked a social phenomenon, thanks to a tribute he’s paying to his father, Al, who died of cancer in September.
“I wanted to reflect on the lessons my dad taught me, and one of the things that he was good with was his promises,” Alex said.
Alex created small cards, with the words “Because I Said I Would” at the bottom. He passed them out to friends and family at his father’s funeral.
“What you do is you write a promise on the card, and you give that card to a person that you’re making that commitment to, you say ‘I’m going to fulfill this promise,’ Alex said. “When you do, you get that card back, and you keep it as a reminder that you’re a person of your word.”
It was perfect, he thought. Holding true to their words – just like dad.
Not long after, Alex took Because I Said I would to the web.
He mails thousands of cards around the world, reaching all 50 states and 18 countries.
“I’m just really touched by how they use them, whether that’s quitting smoking or losing weight,” Alex said. “Even young teenagers who stop cutting themselves, by using because I said I would cards to motivate them, it’s just been life changing for me.”
However, on Thursday night, Alex got a surprise when he decided to make a pledge of his own. The idea was so popular, his website got half-a-million views, crashing the site.
Alex recently planned a vacation to Las Vegas, during which he stumbled upon a charity, the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada. He was moved by their stories.
“A lot of them can’t afford to go to Disneyland, and when I heard that, it just broke my heart,” Alex said. “I couldn’t stand that thought. When my father passed away, I did my best to take him on a couple trips. I can just imagine a poor child not being about to do that.”
Alex mailed 20 individual cards to the organization, promising to send 20 kids to Disneyland. The Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation posted pictures of a little girl, Deliliah, happily opening the package. Her brother recently died of cancer.
Alex plans to deliver the tickets to the little girl and the foundation on March 21.
He imagines it won’t be hard fulfilling the goal, as his Facebook Fan Page doubled to more than 4,500 likes overnight. More than 1,000 people asked for Alex to mail them pledge cards.
“It’s just the most incredible feeling. I’m 27 years old. I’m surprised it’s so shocking to me that it would feel so good,” he said.
“Knowing that Deliliah will be able to go and that children who actually have cancer and their families will be able to go,” Alex continued. “I’m just glad that they can have the same type of memories that I was able to create with my father.”