A viral campaign to bring joy to a Phoenix teenager suffering from cancer has amassed over 500,000 photos of dogs from all over the world.
Anthony Lyons has three dogs, but they can’t visit him when he is undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoblastic leukemia at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. He has to check in the hospital at least once every month. According to his parents his mood only improves when the hospital’s therapy dogs pay him a visit. However, the therapy dogs don’t come every day.
“When the dogs come, that’s the one thing that makes me smile. The dogs are so happy. They come in and they are already happy. They just want to see you,” said Lyons.
A family friend decided to help young Anthony. She created a Facebook page called, ‘Photo Doggies for Anthony’, where Lyons can look at pictures of happy dogs anytime he wants. What started as a small page for friends suddenly ballooned into a popular page, where many people around the globe started uploading their dog’s photos. By New Year’s Eve it had 7,000 people and by last week that number swelled to 900,000.
Roberta Lucero-Koron, creator of the Facebook page, said, “This has gotten so viral that it is making local and soon National News. One thing I have to say is, make yourself smile too by looking at these beautiful animals that God gave us. I can’t stop crying from tears of happiness.”
Apart from posting pictures of various dogs, people have also left their wishes and prayers for Anthony on the Facebook page.
Retha Hill, executive director of the new media, innovation and entrepreneurship lab at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, explained the success of the page, “People will get involved if they think they can make a difference. We can’t cure children’s diseases overnight but we can make this boy smile and it has an immediate impact and outcome.”
For Lyons, this outpouring of support is surprising and encouraging.
“It just kept going and going, it was like, crazy. My mom goes through all the pictures, they all make me smile,” added Lyons.
Lyons was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July. However, doctors told Lyons that the type of leukemia he has is treatable, and with enough time and care, Lyons can get better.
The page is still open and people who are interested to post pictures of their dogs or wish Lyons can visit the Facebook page ‘Photo Doggies for Anthony’.