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Drew Olanoff's 24-hour 'blame-a-thon' raises funds for LiveStrong

If you ask Drew Olanoff, everything happens for a reason: including his cancer. And since he's the type of digital geek to share his life online anyway, he figured he'd include the community in his plight by creating #blamedrewscancer.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor on

If you ask Drew Olanoff, everything happens for a reason: including his cancer. And since he's the type of digital geek to share his life online anyway, he figured he'd include the community in his plight by creating #blamedrewscancer. And, not only is Olanoff including the community, he's inspiring a new branch of community awareness and engagement around the quest for the cure for the dreaded disease.

"I am very lucky as far as cancer goes," Olanoff said. "I wanted to be as delicate yet up front and in your face as possible. The message is, 'I have cancer and I am going to beat it and I need your help.'"

Olanoff was diagnosed on May 20 with stage three Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He recognized that his type of cancer has a high cure rate but having watched loved ones battle cancer, he wanted to create more awareness. He also wanted to try and diminish the fear among people he'd met that seemed to steer away from talking about cancer or even visiting their doctors.

"The fear is completely understandable, and I think a lot of people don't know what to say," Olanoff said. "I would rather have them be alert and aware, and for all of the things we share online this is a case of how sharing something that can help. I'm used to sharing what I have for dinner. Why not this?"

Olanoff launched #blamedrewscancer, which began as a Twitter hashtag for people to blame, well, anything on his cancer. He's been quoted saying that he starting blaming his cancer for mundane things -- even losing his keys -- and then encouraged others to do the same. He turned the #blamedrewscancer into a fundraiserfor Livestrong (Lance Armstrong Foundation) -- his official partner in #blamedrewscancer. While he's raised several thousand dollars in word-of-mouth-driven dontaions, he's currently also trying to find corporate sponsors to pay $1 per person who uses the #blamedrewscancer hashtag -- a total so far of about $11K for any companies ready to make the donation.

However, after today, Olanoff is hoping that number rapidly goes up. He isn't one to back down, as evidenced by his dedicating most of his spare time -- aside from his job as the director of community for GOGII and his treatments, of course -- since May to the #blamedrewscancer cause. Tonight, even, Olanoff and his team are hosting a live "Blame-A-Thon", hosted and sponsored by LiveStream. The event is a  24-hour continuous party and benefit concert that started at midnight ET today (9/9/09) -- as well as live locations in Philadelphia -- where people can get together and blame cancer, view live feeds, create more awareness for the cause, and even see some live bands perform.

It doesn't stop after tonight, either. Olanoff is in the process of creating his own foundation called "Blame Cancer" so that anyone afflicted with the disease can do their own #blame_____cancer hashtag and fundraiser, with the support of people who have been through it.

"I get emails and IMs from people saying they got checked because of reading my blog, hearing about this," Olanoff said. "So, it's working, even if people don't understand it at first."

And, Olanoff doesn't mind being known as "that guy with cancer," either.

"It's not weird that me having cancer is the first thing people know about me. If i am going to be identified with something, I like being affiliated with something I know a lot of people wo aren't going to take lying down," he said. "I'm not exactly the poster child that people imagine. i am fine with that. I am not Lance Armstrong, I am not an amazing athlete. But I am proof that we all can do something."

To join the Blame-A-Thon, which continues until midnight ET on 9/10/09, visit the streaming site, or visit #blamedrewscancer for more about the cause. Oh, and go #blamedrewscancer for something on Twitter.

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