Just one month ago we wrote about the SMS Research Foundation hoping to hook the support of Ellen DeGeneres and her eponymous TV show. Earlier this week, however, the Wilton-based non-profit organization received word that DeGeneres and her show decided they wouldn’t be able to lend a hand.
Founded by Wilton mom Jennifer Iannuzzi after her daughter, Sydney, was diagnosed with the very rare Smith-Magenis Syndrome, the SMSRF is hosting an awareness and fundraiser, “Lights! Camera! Research!” on June 18 at the Prospector Theater with a first-release showing of Finding Dory, the Finding Nemo sequel starring DeGeneres.
Since Iannuzzi announced the plans for the fundraiser, the extended community of people and families impacted by SMS took the cause on as their own, spontaneously kicking off a social media campaign that tried to get the attention of DeGeneres and her show’s producers. Flooding Facebook with pictures and the hashtags #BeingDory, #FindingEllen and #SMS, people from around the world took up the cause. They recognized in DeGeneres and in her character of Dory the philosophy to “Just Keep Swimming” in the face of difficult obstacles and challenges. They hoped that the world-famous actress and talk show host would be their Dory, just by shining her light of celebrity on the cause even for just a brief moment to help the world learn a little bit more about SMS.
While the show ultimately decided to do anything related to the SMSRF #BeingDory effort, it wasn’t all for nothing, says Iannuzzi. In fact, while she was initially sad and disappointed at hearing the ‘no,’ she examined what the effort was able to do. She wrote something to the more than 2,000 followers that SMSRF has.
The truth is Dory lives in all of us. Anyone who faces an uphill battle everyday and has no choice but to Just Keep Swimming is a Dory. A Dory faces each obstacle with a sense of humor and a determination and is always ready and willing to land a hand to a friend in need.
I learned something the other day, Dory is not just a name that Pixar gave to a fish, a Dory is actually the name of a type of boat. A Dory has a simple structure and looks quite unstable yet has a remarkable ability to never tip over even in rough waters. Dory’s have been around forever and have been loyal boats to fisherman for years!
We don’t need Ellen to be our Dory. This #FindingEllen quest has taught us all that we are all Dory’s and that no matter where we live in this world we are all ready and willing to lend a hand to a friend in need and we all just proved that to each other these past few weeks. Let’s see if we can keep #BeingDory going not only as a way to get to Ellen but as a way to continue our efforts at being supportive to a friend or a cause in need.
Like Dory, Iannuzzi has an indomitable spirit that is propelling the “Lights, Camera, Research!” fundraiser. She has put together a committee of volunteers just as driven and inspired to make the event incredibly successful. Several sponsors have already signed on (including GOOD Morning Wilton as Media Sponsor), but the committee is looking for more local businesses and individuals to help.
Anyone interested in finding out more about sponsorship and donations for a silent auction, or to buy tickets, can visit the event website or email Iannuzzi directly. Tickets are on sale now and the event promises to be a family-friendly, amazing day.