Friday, July 29, 2011

weSupport



Not exactly the title I had planned to post today.

No, today's blog was GOING to be titled iLuke, and it was going to feature Luke Lundgren, and the photos of he and his family gathered around the iPad2 that they received yesterday from us.

And that post will come. But I sent a note to The Lundgrens and their family assures me that the post about the iPad2 is absolutely one that can wait a couple of days so that I can instead use this space to talk to you all about another matter.

Because it is vital to remember that while this site exists to facilitate the giving if these devices to children with communication-related disabilities, it also exists for reasons that go much farther than that. This site is also about community, and supporting each other in times of need, in times of stress, or pain and struggle.

One of our own, one of the families on our list, is struggling now, and we need to divert our attention to them for the moment.


Liam, from the Olson family, is in the PICU at Hasbro Children's Hospital. You can read the update by Eric, Liam's Dad, at Pressure Support and offer your words of encouragement to his family there.

All of us here hope that Liam makes a speedy recovery and have nothing but the warmest of thoughts and prayers for him and his family. Eric and Karin, Hasbro Children's Hospital is in the Rhode Island area, am I right? Let us know if there is anything anybody can do for you.

Take care of yourselves and your brave little warrior.

*EDIT(6:42PM EST):
I've never been a Twitter guy. For obvious reasons. Well, I think they're obvious. I have the affliction known as Diarrhea of the Mouth. Or in this case hands I guess. Although, I suppose I could use Twitter as an educational tool (would that be tax deductible?) to learn some brevity. But on Eric's Sidebar I saw this, and wanted to share. He 'TWEETS' I guess you call it. He's also a very witty guy.

@PressureSupport-Eric Olson
'After all we've done for him, Liam is now refusing to share his morphine drip.'

Now THAT is a man who is keeping his spirits up!

PEACE.
-Ken

On behalf of:
Heather, Maureen, Darcy & Ken
Mission: iPossible



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Three


'And Saint Attila raised the iPads up on high, saying, "O LORD, bless these Thy iPads that with them Thou mayest educate Thine friends with technology, in Thy mercy." And the LORD did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large chu...And the LORD spake, saying, "
First shalt thou take out the Holy iPads, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be Three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to Three. Five is right out. Once the number Three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy iPads towards thy friends, who being awesome in My sight, shall use them." '

- Book of Armaments
(Chapter 2 - Verses 9-21)

There are times when the circumstances call for seriousness and steadfastness. And others, where you need to take off the shackles a little, and have some fun.

Fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the 1975 (wow, can someone PLEASE dust me off?) British comedy starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin will instantly recognize the moment that is riffed on here, when the errant knights try to foil the plans of a killer rabbit blocking their way with a Holy Hand Grenade on their quest to find the Holy Grail.

Non-fans will be going...'Huh?'

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of a handful of films from the comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus and is considered by many their greatest work. It is a treasured classic that, although British comedy is a taste that for some has to be acquired here in the U.S., if you haven't seen it...well, I think you should.

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch sequence is one of my favorites, and whenever someone starts yapping about the number Three, my mind always goes three places. The actual Holy Trinity, Star Wars Trilogies, and that never un-funny reading from the Book of Armaments that parodies the Athanasian Creed (hey, I'm a Catholic, so a little poking fun at my Church I can live with) and satirizes a globus cruciger.


OK, so I modified the reading a little for my purposes. So what. It isn't REALLY canonicalish, or whatever-you-call-it.

Like I said. Sometimes we gotta LIGHTEN UP. Which is what we are gonna do today. That's because we are making the official announcement of the purchase of THREE NEW iPADS.

Isn't that AMAZING? We think so, too.


There have been some remarkable, and I do mean remarkable, donations. It's something I want to go over in a separate post, probably tomorrow or Friday at the latest, because it deserves it's own spot. But the generosity of human beings can be a very humbling thing, and to witness it has been very transformative for me, on a fundamental level.

One of these days I will make a real attempt to try to explain that much more effectively.

We've notified the parents of the kiddos, and that means that these Recipient households...

The Lundgrens
cerealgirl007 - Cereal World
Scooby Snack

...are all lined up and in the process of having the final stages of their individual Missions completed.

The Lundgrens and cerealgirl007 have completed their Verification and the iPads will be leaving today or tomorrow depending on our schedule. We'll be sending them the tracking info privately. Scooby Snack's iPad will be sent out shortly, we are just waiting for the Verification paperwork they sent in via traditional mail.

That's kind of cool actually.


NO ONE sends traditional mail anymore. I mean, other than Christmas and Birthdays and stuff, when you really think about it. I work from home, and I DON'T EVEN bother to check the mail anymore. It's just bills. What a drag. I kind of miss the days of getting letters from people, even though environmentally speaking we're all way better off not having that much more extra debris floating around on Mother Earth.

Yeah, somebody REALLY needs to dust me off.

Anybody got a Swiffer?

PEACE.
-Ken

On behalf of:
Heather, Maureen, Darcy & Ken
Mission: iPossible



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Grace to the Humble


Did you ever get so overjoyed about something, you tripped over yourself in your excitement while celebrating?

Happens all the time.

In the age of digital cameras, smart phones and the Internet you see all sorts of examples of it. From slips that reveal a bit too much skin, to NFL players falling on their keesters, no one is immune to the embarrassment of occasionally taking one to the chin when they are jumping up and down in celebration.

Not even us.

In Wednesday's post, I teased everybody to keep their weathered eyes on the horizon for some updates to our site for new pages to start making their way into the Mission. After that post went live, we received a bit of news, a bit of game changing news, that...well, changed our game.

That's why they call it GAME-CHANGING, 'natch!

And we were so blown away by it that we went into spiritual and emotional overdrive, and in our haste, we got a little lost. But not too badly. Did someone just say something about 'Rock' and 'Salvation'?


Some of the pages went live before they were supposed to, but nothing was shared that violated any of the promises we made, that much I assure you. The only thing that happened was that the sequential order of the Recipients went up before we'd had a chance to contact the parents personally, something we'd promised to do, and for that all we can do is apologize and ask to be forgiven.

Other things, like some of the Forms and such, were not ready to be posted, but that is small potatoes. We can fix those things and re-activate them with relative ease. What I want most is to just publicly acknowledge our responsibility, offer our apology, and to explain the reason why yesterday went a little wacky.

Because the intentions were honorable, and the news very good indeed.


It is with sincere humility and delight that I announce on behalf of our entire team that we have partnered with Bill, Victoria and their daughter Gwendolyn from The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation.

Gwendolyn Strong was born in October, 2007, perfectly healthy, but was diagnosed with the terminal disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type I at 6-months-old.

Bill and Victoria, her parents, are obviously committed to raising awareness about and funding research for SMA and helping families who are torn apart by this horrible disease, but to understand the significance of their offer to help us in this cause is to understand something fundamentally beautiful about the human spirit that I think is forever forged out of being the parent of a child who is disabled.

And that is the unwavering, steadfast commitment we have to each other in our community. It is not necessary that we know each other. It is not an absolute that our children share the same condition.


When our children suffer, we suffer.

And this bonds us. Permanently.

They did not hesitate, for a nano-second, to reach out and extend their umbrella to service our cause; a cause that Bill himself had only good things to say about.

From a spiritual standpoint this is...monumentally nourishing.

But first, let me go over the practical side of things. (Yeah, yeah, I know...I gotta go spoil the moment...)

The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation is a straight-up, legitimate, well-respected 501 (c)(3), which now makes any donation to Mission: iPossible 100% tax deductible and 100% secure. There are no fees removed other than the usual Merchant Services credit card fees that most online transactions have (3-5%), so nearly ALL money received will go directly to service the needs of the children, without a per-transaction percentage fee like some non-profit partnership opportunities that there are out there.

But best of all?


We are restoring our faith and trust from within our own community, and since we were attacked from within our community, this is a major building block for the return of a measure of trust. With grace and with dignity, they help us wipe away ANY residual doubt that might be left behind in the wake of the disastrous giveaway that started this chain of events. There is no way we can possibly thank Bill, Victoria and their precious daughter Gwendolyn enough for this extraordinary gesture of Humanitarianism.

As you can see now, there is an active Donation button to the right on our page. This takes you to a page that is hosted and sponsored by the GSF, and it is live. If you click it, you are not obligated to make a donation by that act alone, so feel free to explore. Though, if you have the cash, don't hold back either! Because if you do, and some have, you will be issued a receipt that you can use with the IRS at tax time.

We have already secured the funds for another iPad thanks to the support of a couple of HEAVY-HITTING donors, and we are inches away from another, both of which we should be announcing officially next week, at which time I will also go over the Random Drawing we did and a few other dangling issues I want to cover.

And by then all of our ducks should be stacked up nice and neat, in a perfect row, quacking away.


Thank you Bill, Victoria & Gwendolyn, for opening doors we could never have opened ourselves. To our parents and Recipients, our readership and our friends, thank you for your understanding and all of your patience. And thank you, as always, to those both inside and outside of this community, for your support and participation in this effort.

PEACE.
-Ken

On behalf of:
Heather, Maureen, Darcy & Ken
Mission: iPossible



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Some Updates


We wanted to take an opportunity to share a few little snippets with you, keep you in the loop as to some of what is going on. Not just in our world, but some of those things related to it.

A very supercharged shout-out to everyone who commented on yesterday's blog about Christopher's iPad! It was a very emotional moment, for everybody, and if you'd like to experience it from another perspective, be sure to check out the blog of Christopher's mother Stephanie, Our Little Man, she put up a really sweet entry today about the iPad.


Looking forward to staying in touch and seeing more photos of Christopher and his family communicating!

In other news, you'll see in the next couple of days a lot of subtle details getting peppered in to our site, courtesy of the entire crew, working feverishly behind the scenes to try to finalize a lot of the details. Keep an eye out as pages become live as tabs at the top of the page, revealing new information, like Verification forms, Contact Information and other nifty stuff.

To all the Parents of the Recipients, fear NOT! You do not have to sweat any of the details. In addition to having the pages here we will, as before, be in touch with you privately to offer some information and answer questions.

We're all in this together.


Speaking of togetherness, be sure to head on over to Ellen's blog Love That Max!, where she is hosting a giveaway for not one, but TWO iPads, including the amazing Proloquo2Go Speech application that I'm sure everybody on the list here had put on their software list that they had originally submitted. It's an awesome app, and if you follow Ellen's blog, which you should, you know that it has made a tremendous difference in Max's life.

Go check it out and be sure to enter. It's certainly worth a shot, right?

PEACE.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

iChristopher


As if you didn't already KNOW.

But a tease is a tease, and sometimes that's what you have to do, build up to something and then...WHAMMO. Reveal the surprise.

As a parent with a child who has a disability, and a lot of difficulty with communication, and as a parent who was a part of this contest, I can tell you with some confidence that I am sure all of us, this group that I like to call 'The Forty', has a story. And I know in my heart that every story is unique, beautiful, heart-breaking, uplifting, terrifying, wonderful, and special.


What made Stephanie and Christopher's story leap out at me, and I can only speak for me, was what happened to them when they thought they were receiving their iPad from the original contest site. They got a real 'whammy-jammy' laid upon them by the alignment of their circumstances and the original giveaway, as explained by Stephanie in the comments section of Love That Max, one of the many blogs that covered the carnage.

'In our case, this has affected some of my son's treatment plan! We travel 300 miles for therapy services. He was getting Augmentative Communication therapy @ Rehab Institute of Chicago. We had originally decided to order something like a Dynavox computer for Christopher ($4000 - $10,000 depending on accessories). Now that would have been covered by insurance and would have taken the entire year limit for DME purchases. About that time we found that we were awarded the iPad. Our therapists were thrilled, because it was more versatile than a straight communication device. We made weekly appointments throughout the summer.



Every week, we would have to show up empty handed. Every week, our therapists were getting more and more frustrated - we were taking up appointment times for people who actually HAD devices to use. After last week when we had been told the iPads were mailed, then they weren't etc., our therapists said come back when you have the tools for therapy.

We are now at the bottom of a two year waiting list. So, even if it were to show up tomorrow - my son misses out. Not to mention, now we have to make a decision whether to cancel the order for the stander and gait trainer that we ordered, or decide to get a communication device. I also have a bunch of therapists who think I am some liar, stringing them along.'


That really struck a chord in a lot of people, myself included, and I know it resonated with Kara, who we talked about yesterday. It was mentioned in Mo's original post about the purchase of the iPad, I just edited it for purposes of keeping the identity hidden.

Mo's quotation from one of the Prayers of St. Francis yesterday summed it up perfectly, and I never thought that I, a man, a Catholic man, who has been struggling with my Faith for 20 years, would so willingly embrace one of the Prayers so...effortlessly.


But how can I not? The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi (sometimes called the 'Peace Prayer') is actually quite beautiful, and as much as this may surprise you if you have been following me personally for two years, I'd like to share it with you here in its entirety. This is its English translation.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.



Does it get much better than that?

PEACE.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hey, MO!


No...not THAT Moe...although, to reveal that 1/2 of the secret identity of SNAvenger was indeed Moe Howard, a resurrected 1/3 of The Three Stooges would be the Story of the Century, the Mo I refer to is the nickname for 1/4 of our Mission: iPossible group...a woman, a mother you know of as Maureen.

Too many fractions in there. You still with me?

Remember the iPad that we've been telling you that was purchased and delivered? Maureen is the one who went to the store and bought it. But why should I tell the story, when she can tell it way 'MO BETTAH' than I?

And with that? Here's Maureen...


My family and the Needhams have been friends for years. Actually, Heather is my mother's girlfriend. She and I have children close in age, though, so I call her my friend too.

I was raised with a cousin who has Down Syndrome. We were brought up to respect people with special needs. I remember being 9 or 10 years old and correcting adults who used the 'R word', before it was PC to do it. We knew it was our job to be patient and loving with people that were different, people like our cousin - who, to us, was just another cousin. As we got older, this played out in many ways. One of my sisters currently works as a therapist for children who have severe cases of Autism. Another sister worked as a job coach for adults with special needs, until she quit to become a stay-at-home Mother.


My entire family has followed Zoey's and Heather's blog since its inception. When we learned that Zoey had been awarded an iPad, we were thrilled for her. My own children love playing with their grandma's iPad - and I have always been so impressed with how intuitively the kids were able to operate the device. I knew, right away, that Zoey and all the other "winners" would really benefit from the technology. I reflected on the first time each of my children said, "Love you, Mommy," and was so glad that these "winning" Moms and Dads were going to get the chance to maybe hear that from their own children for the first time.

Some members of my family contributed to the fund in the hopes that more children would be given iPads. But after a few weeks, we started to wonder where Zoey's iPad was. Heather confided in my mother that she was getting suspicious. There had been numerous delays, and no deliveries. I texted Heather and asked what was up with the giveaway. She called me and shared her concerns, indicating that she was starting to feel that the entire thing was bogus. I told her I wanted to look into it. Because I'm nosey like that.


I started to look around a bit on the Internet, and right away I found some information that made me go, "Huh?" I enlisted a dear friend of mine, Darcy [Editor's note: The other 1/2 of the SNAvenger Identity], who is far, far more technologically savvy than I am. She found even more evidence that all was not right. We became convinced that there were no iPads, and that families were being lied to. We sent the organizer of the "giveaway" a very harsh email, demanding that he stop accepting donations to his Paypal account, and that he tell the "recipients" the truth.


We told him we would turn him in to the authorities. We were absolutely infuriated for the families we believed had been lied to. We were sickened that anyone would take advantage of the trust and generosity of the special needs community. We were scared that families who didn't have much money to give away were doing so anyway, in the hope that it would make a difference in the life of another child with special needs.

After corresponding with the person in charge of the "giveaway" for a while, he agreed to tell the "winners" the truth. With Heather's guidance, my friend and I decided to confide in Ken, and tell him what we'd been doing and what we knew. After much correspondence, we decided that we'd all still like to see the kids who were promised iPads obtain the technology. We asked ourselves, "What can we do about this?"

Thus, the Mission: iPossible group was born. With our four different personalities and different skill sets, we thought we could make the iPads iPossible for these great kids...one at a time.


Remember that sister I told you about? The one who used to be a job coach for adults with special needs? She has always had a place in her heart for people who are different. She is now a stay-at-home Mom with two beautiful daughters, and married to a young fireman. My sister, Kara, had donated to the original "fund", believing that it meant more kids would get iPads. After she spoke with me, Kara immediately went to the internet and checked out all the blogs that were discussing the alleged scandal.

After a while, she called me and said, "I want to buy an iPad for one of the families, let me talk to T.C. (her husband)." T.C. had some reservations and a lot of questions. Sending an expensive piece of technology to a complete stranger? He wasn't sure it was a great idea. Like a good husband, though, he told his wife to do whatever she felt was right. The next day, she and I went to the Apple Store and she bought the family an iPad2. We sent it out immediately.


T.C. does not have much connection to the special needs community. Our cousin, who is now 21-years-old, was the first person with Down Syndrome he'd ever met. When he was shown the photographs of the child opening the iPad, he was so moved that he told Kara, my sister, that if they could come up with the funds (they are in the midst of buying a house right now), that he'd like to buy more iPads for these children. Just as receiving the device was huge for the family; it was also huge for their benefactors. Like St. Francis said, "It is in giving that we receive."


Anyway, that's the story. Not all of it, of course, not even most of it - but the main points. I am so committed to getting iPads out to each and every recipient who still wants one. Thanks for allowing me to help and for the chance to earn your trust!

There you have it. From the source.

It is the intention of Mission: iPossible to handle the fulfillment of the Recipient list in random order, to be determined soon, via a digital video that we will shoot and post to YouTube and link to in a blog.

Full disclosure. Full transparency.

You'll hear these words a lot. You may tire of them. But they are necessary. Of this there can be little doubt.

It should be noted that this particular iPad preceded that drawing and was donated from someone's heart, in the midst of the fallout of this entire debacle of a contest, even as this group was in its infancy, based on feeling, and we also would never stand in the way of that because of a set of guidelines.


We are 'Giving Facilitators', according to our Mission Statement, not 'Giving Get-In-Way-Of-Ors'...or something like that. :)

That's the fine line that we will have to walk, but we walk it gladly, steadfast and determined to work through any kinks, as there will be some. But if a 'kink' in a process is that a child gets to communicate with a parent and we see comments like the ones I put in the last post?

We'll take that ANY DAY.

Tomorrow? The REVEAL.

PEACE.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Anticipation


Good things come to those who wait.

They say that, but what they don't tell you is that waiting REALLY stinks! It feels like ages ago that we dropped the hint that we had procured and even shipped an iPad in an effort to complete what we call MISSION ONE as an organized unit, even though it has been less than a week.

Why the delay?

Well, the day after we had dropped our teaser, a non-existent iPad appeared and was awarded to one of the recipients in the original contest! It came as such a surprise to everybody that we decided that we wanted to wait to reveal ours because there were a lot of questions and suspicions floating about, and it made sense to wait and allow for a cool-down period.

But when I received this, from one of the parents of the child who received the iPad, I wanted to share it. With permission, I do so now, though I have altered it slightly because this is a TEASER, I am going to post the rest of the story...I'm not telling, as I don't want to get punked this time.

'We appreciate this more than you can imagine. He/she has already started showing us that he/she knows more than he/she has been letting on! We have a couple of free apps that we downloaded teaching colors, shapes, etc. He/she picked out shapes that we have never gone over (more than once). He/she also showed us that he/she recognizes different animals and was able to pick out animals based on questions: "What animal has fur?" "Which animal swims?" Etc. We have NEVER reviewed animals in that way.'

I told the parent that this was probably the single greatest thing in the known universe that I had heard all week, and it was 100% what this project is about. I get misty-eyed even re-counting the exchange, it is THAT important when your child moves into territory as yet un-charted, and to hear phrases like that is so...pure.


And after all the negativity swirling about this entire week, I needed it more than a man stepping off the surface of the sun needs a drink of water. A BIG drink of water.

Look for much more of that story very, very soon.

Also, check out the new pages as they get updated, the OUR MISSION page and the RECIPIENTS list, and we have a Facebook Page now, courtesy of one Steve Hoveke, my dear friend who thought of it while I was too busy to do so. Steve, thanks for having my back. As soon as I can remember how to get a Facebook Badge on this site, I will be happy to easily link you all up to it!

More soon!
(And no, that's not the official sign-off...)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Construction Underway


You can't hide it when you get things started on Blogger.

Well, maybe you can, but I'm a toy geek, not a computer wizard.

We are in the process of putting the finishing touches together on what we need as far as the gooey innards of this site and then we'll start adding them in. In the meantime, you'll probably see little tweaks and bloops along the way.

No big deal...besides, I think we LIKE the fact that you can see the fact that we're working on it and not just sitting around playing Pachisi or something.

Did I just reference Pachisi?

OU...

Oops. Wait a minute...I think we need to have a different sign-off. Gonna have to give this one some thought. MiP and the tagline were so EASY.

This is gonna be HARD.

Emotional Control

*MiP Editor's Note: This was one of the first blogs referencing Mission: iPossible from the blog called Blogzilly and has been transferred here for archival purposes, with comments turned off.




It is only natural, in times like these, to let our emotions take over.

Everyone feels things on such an intense, focused level. Everyone. Especially the parents. I don't think I need to remind anyone that I was a former recipient in the Marissa's Bunny iPad Contest, and it is very easy to get swallowed up by current events. In case you had not seen those current events, they were, in summary, a statement by the contest host that the contest is officially closed and the iPads will not be forthcoming.

Ever since that time, my Inbox and Heather's has been in overdrive. Comments sections in blogs have been deluged. Facebook is on fire. Cats and dogs, living together...mass hysteria!

It has been suggested that some people on the recipient list are not who they claim to be, that entire identities are in question. A reasonable thing to be aware of. Please know that we ARE aware that identity verification is essential to any process, and one member of our team you will be meeting shortly has created some very cool forms that are simple and very easy to fill out that any recipient would ONLY have to complete when an iPad is ready to be delivered. This gal's GOOD. IN fact, here is a look at one of the forms right now. Cool huh?


But you won't need to complete it until WE are ready to ship an iPad to YOU. And not before. No need to ask for something until it is needed, capise? You all have been through enough of that.

Other steps will be taken as needed, but I also urge this...do not over-stress about this parents, recipients and other members of the community. We all need to keep a reasoned mind. Too many people have their torches out.

Is it OK to skeptical? Absolutely. But we cannot afford to be accusatory of anyone. It would not be the right thing to do and it would take us off the task at hand.

As it stands, after having posted the invitation to join the restoration process, our of 40 posted recipients, I have only received 15 responses to this request, though one I know if is still probably pending. This does not mean that the rest are 'not real'. I honestly think that many people have simply had enough. I can tell you this...I am exhausted from this. My wife hates me right now. This thing can take on a life of its own and I am convinced that a LOT of recipients probably have just said 'You know what...this shit SUCKS!!!' and moved on.


I'd be lying if thoughts like that had not crossed my mind about the entire Internet. That's what happens in your head when things like this happen. So you can't just jump instantly to any single conclusion.

I assure you, we will address this in the verification process section in the new blog site, so please do not stress over it. Ask yourself this...what IF someone who was not supposed to get an iPad got an iPad? As long as we succeed in our mission, then that does not matter. If that means we get 37 OTHER kids, or whatever the number turns out to be, their iPads, that's ALL that does matter. Cost of business. Plain and simple. In life, you cannot let the monster under the bed keep you from taking action.

We have to remember, as difficult as it is as parents (and remember, Heather and I were both former recipients too, we have an 'emotional' stake as well), to keep our emotions in check as much as possible and proceed with dignity and caution.

Things will unfold as they should. Have faith, in yourselves, in each other especially and the strength of this community, to stay strong and to stay focused on what matters the most.

OUT.

M:iP! Clarification, an Apology & a Tiny Teaser

*MiP Editor's Note: This was one of the first blogs referencing Mission: iPossible from the blog called Blogzilly and has been transferred here for archival purposes, with comments turned off.



Got a note this morning, or maybe yesterday...days are a bit blurry right now, regarding the Mission: iPossible! project that we have started. It was from one of the participants in the contest who won an iPad. No need to inform you of who that is at this time, not unless this person wishes it.

Anyway, the gist of the message was that the winner had informed the original contest hosts that they no longer wanted to be in consideration for the iPad, and as a courtesy also wanted to inform me of the same. Although the winner was appreciative of what I announced and had some very nice things to say, the reason given was that one had already been purchased and so, therefore, no iPad was needed.

I haven't asked yet, but if I receive permission when I finally get the Mission: iPossible! blog up (which will act as our main website for the time being) and create the Winners Page so that I can have a checklist once winners receive their iPads, I'll list the winner there and have them as 'checked off'.

So, this got me to thinking...I made a, let's call it a somewhat arrogant presumption, that I need to apologize for. I presumed, wrongly, that the people on the winners list of the original contest would simply come on over, no muss no fuss, and be a willing participant in this project.


That was a fairly stupid conclusion to jump to, I wasn't really thinking. I'm sorry about that.

It is still, as you can see in various comments sections (not HERE of course, people don't leave 60 comments HERE) a fairly divisive issue.

I understand that, I really do, and I respect it completely.

So I need to 'put out the call' so to speak. If you were a winner of the original iPad contest, and you wish to be considered in this restoration project, please e-mail me at klilly@creatusmaximus.com so that I can add your name to our list.

Please put Mission: iPossible! iPad Project into the Subject line, and include your Name and contact information in the e-mail, along with any other information you think I need to know. Any good jokes are also welcome. I love a good laugh.

This list will remain private until I receive clearance from the participants in written form to post it publicly. I am simply trying to get a 'head-count' so to speak, since it will help when trying to calculate an end-goal. Hopefully you all can understand how important that is to actually working out all the necessary details to achieve that goal. Need to raise some capital!

Does that clarify things a bit? Hope so. I'm looking at a couple of days before I get the basic site structure of M:iP! up and running. I know...it doesn't take THAT long to create a blog from a template. But we do have other things to consider and some details to finalize.

And OH YEAH...I almost forgot...the tease part. Our little group has already secured its first iPad, via donation, and a couple other interesting things, and that means one recipient, as soon as we know who actually wants to BE a recipient, could be selected as early as tomorrow.



It is our intention to, hopefully, be able to announce that recipient, with photos and everything, as soon as the MiP! blog goes live in a couple of days!

How do ya like DEM...um...Apples?

You don't KNOW how long I've been waiting to say that. OK, just one day, but it felt like forever. :P

OUT.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mission iPossible

*MiP Editor's Note: This was one of the first blogs referencing Mission: iPossible from the blog called Blogzilly and has been transferred here for archival purposes, with comments turned off.

A brief preface to this, before I continue. Anyone who currently runs a blog site and wishes to copy this text below, you are by all means allowed, and even encouraged to do so. I want to spread the word, so to speak, to as many places as will have it.

On May 13th, in the digital pages of this very blog, I announced that I was the winner of an iPad in a contest hosted by a website known as Marissa’s Bunny. I was one of 40 other families, selected in a merit-based contest, to receive an iPad, $500 worth of free software and, if memory serves correctly, I think there was also a gift certificate to an Apple store for $70.00 that could be used for hardware, like a case for protection and so forth.

I say ‘if memory serves’, because the contest ended several months ago.

To date no one, to my knowledge, has received an iPad.

To be absolutely clear, I can only say with 100% certainty that I have not. No one that I have been in contact with on the winners list has said they have received one. None of the winners who have blogs have stepped forward to announce that they have received theirs on their blogs, and the other winners on the list, who do not have public blogs, I do not know how to reach out to.

If you follow the blog that originally hosted the contest, you will see mention of various delays in the shipment of the iPads, you will also see, now, the site has gone through some fairly major changes and the iPad contest overall has been suspended.

This is a very difficult thing to write about, let me assure you. It is very easy...VERY easy, to get sucked into a lot of negativity, suspicion and outright emotional chaos when situations like these present themselves. Many bloggers have been receiving e-mails from winners searching for answers, I have received them as well, and it can be hard to navigate waters that are as uncharted as these.

Many bloggers have already started posting about it. Some, unfortunately, in the structure of what they have written, are dangerously close to libel. I urge every blogger who writes a single word to be very, very careful about what you say about a person and how you say it. I am sure nobody wants to get entangled in anything that could cause you any kind of problem in the future.

I do understand that in times like these, questions bounce around like pinballs, you get a lot, and you feel the need to answer them. I get them myself. Is it true what that e-mail said about Mike, Ken? Do you think that the iPads are really going to ship, Ken? What should I do, Ken? Is this whole thing a scam, Ken?

The plain truth is this...when something like this happens; there is no easy answer to ANY question. At least, not one that anyone can give you that can be given with authority, certainty and fairness.

But the Internet is a large place, full of information. You do not need me, or anyone else, to tell you what or how to think. You don't need me or anybody else in order to draw your own conclusion about whether you think you will or will not be receiving an iPad. You need to do your own due diligence and research and come to your own conclusions.

Information is out there, you just have to go looking for it.

Hell, for shits and giggles, look up my name. If you type in Ken Lilly, or Ken Lilly Palisades, or Ken Lilly Blogzilly, or whatever, you will find a bucketload of information about me and all the stuff I’ve worked on, interviews I’ve done, toys I’ve designed. But please don't search for Ken Lilly Naked Dress Bachelor Party Emergency Room Gerbils. There's just no NEED.

My point here is this.

I am not here to smear anyone. I am not here to tell you whether I think Marrisa’s Bunny was on the up and up, or whether this was just something that got out of hand. I am not here to tell you what to think. Or how to feel.

It is not my place. Nor my responsibility.

I can only tell you what I think about how our community should behave, and what I, as an individual, plan to do. I can also share with you my experiences with this contest, as I was an active participant in the process.

It is my intention to proceed by this assumption, and that is that the iPads from the contest are not going to be forthcoming. And honestly, even if one showed up now, even though I believe it never will, especially in light of the latest statement from the website that any parent winner that has any involvement in the 'threats' is off the winners list, I would mark Return to Sender and give it back to the carrier.

I do not desire it.

That is not to say I have previously been involved in any of the suggested perceived 'threats'. But I fear that this post will be taken as such, even though I have said time and again that I do not have all the answers and that I urge you to reserve judgment and form your own conclusions. I am hopeful that this post is not viewed that way, but I am also a realistic man.

As realistic as I have been about this contest, as it has felt strange for a long, long time.

It has been stated on the website that the contest has been suspended indefinitely for reasons that do not, to me, make any rational sense. But a lot about the contest doesn't make sense and hasn't from the very beginning, in my opinion.

There is no timetable. And there never was. It has already been months. The contest never had a verification process that I had to fill out. I never had to sign a thing. I never had to send in paperwork to prove I had a Special Needs child.

Then $500 in software was added in later, instead of a handful of new iPads for Special Needs families. To me, and again, this is just my opinion, this was a bit weird. It didn't really pass my own sniff test, but again, who am I to argue someone's generosity? I just felt like even questioning it made me feel like a complete asshole. But I kept thinking that it would make much more sense to, if you are donating something, to donate a few more iPads to cover more kids, not $500 in Apps for EACH winner.

While generous and of course I was EXTREMELY gracious and grateful in my communications (which I would be more than happy to share if I was asked to, BTW), this was just odd, since apps are usually free or $.99 - $1.99 and that served to delay the iPad shipments even longer as families struggled to fill an Apps list, with some people finally giving up and saying 'We can't THINK of any more Apps, just keep the rest of the money!'.

As far as the shipment of the iPads, we had been told iPads had shipped several different times, in quantities whose numbers kept changing, then told they did not. I was told that mine had DEFINITIVELY shipped. Later told it had not. Again later we were told that 25 people absolutely, positively had their iPads shipped, and that UPS picked them up. Then told that UPS had screwed it up. Later still came the message that 'Everything has shipped.'

Still, as of today, July 9, no winners have stepped forward that I know of.

Of course, the question always remained about the corporation...I kept wondering to myself...why would a corporation that was so magnanimous, so willing to give of itself to families of Special Needs children, NOT want to take credit for that publicly? The answer to that question was always that the company did not want other groups coming to them hitting them up for more charity. I've never heard of any company, EVER, that afraid of confrontation in my entire life.

I have also never, not once in my entire life, seen a company not take advantage of that level of giving from a PR perspective, especially when you are talking about this kind of expense and this particular community. ESPECIALLY in this particular climate when, nationwide, special needs kids are getting CREAMED by state governments and their revisions to their benefits. What BETTER time to become a savior to a community that is currently being slammed to the canvas?

And the corporation would not be WRONG to do this. To me, remaining anonymous does not grant them some higher moral standing. It is natural, it is normal, it is expected that they would do so in the corporate world, and I doubt there are many rational thinking Special Needs Mom's and Dad's out there that would begrudge that. I certainly would not.

But in this case, they did not want any attention whatsoever. You know how I feel about 'corporations', so I have to be sure I don't let my personal anti-establishment feelings cloud my perceptions here. But why WOULDN'T they want the publicity? Could it be because despite their massive success they couldn't find one person among them capable of shipping a single pre-packaged, already-ready to ship iPad out of 40 while I, out of my house, can ship over 287 INDIVIDUALLY sold loose Star Wars figures in a single day (my personal best record on eBay ever, 'natch) and regularly ships items from all three major carriers out of my house each week with no help whatsoever?

How does a corporation with this much power, this much money and this much generosity screw something up this badly?

There are just too many inconsistencies in the information I have received over the last couple of months via website and e-mail, and so much continued and, in my opinion, deliberate vagueness. And do I ever mean 'continued'...(on blogger's comments sections), because even as of this afternoon as I finish writing this, it is ongoing on Ellen's blog.

All of this, in combination, has helped guide me to the conclusion that from this point forward, I no longer have faith in anything regarding this contest, and I no longer WANT to care about it.

It is not relevant to me anymore.

And I will say this...I am still reserving FINAL judgment that this may have nothing at all to do with Mike until all of the facts are in. It could still very well be the company he works for, or some third party, or the 'mysterious person who was fired'. And that's why I am trying to make sure everyone understands...this is a commentary about a CONTEST.

Not a MAN.

This is based on MY belief, MY researched opinion.

It is still going to be up to you to draw your own conclusions.

But I assure you, that every step I take from here forward will be based on my belief. What else is a person left with other than that?

That is not to say that nothing is being ‘done’ about looking into the matter or that I just wash my hands and turn my back. I do not want you to think that not answering questions or being elusive with questions I have received does not suggest inaction. But please, I am asking you, as a matter of trust, which I know is extremely, EXTREMELY, hard for you to do at the moment, to have faith that the correct and just steps are being taken to look into this contest that are 100% legal and 100% above board and 100% fair to all parties and are not threatening any harm to anyone, especially Mike's family, as he has stated.

If you are a reader of my blog, you know I am an open book.

Some would say too open. I have always disagreed with that. I always hoped one day that this...tendency of mine would serve a greater purpose. Please allow it to serve me now. Trust that what I am telling you has merit, and then let this part of it go. Do not let this become something ugly, something that tarnishes our community.

It's inevitable and I cannot stop this, but already I can see on various blogs and comments sections battle lines being drawn and sides being 'chosen', and that is a disturbing prospect.

But if you can, before you suit up and grab a weapon, let things run their course.

Be dignified.

There is a real danger here. A danger of getting swallowed up by the negativity, the darkness, which this entire situation could possibly generate. Therefore, a different response, a different approach, is absolutely required. It is extremely important; no it is paramount to remember that, in the end, this is only about one thing and one thing alone. There is only one 'side' you need to choose.

Our kids.

Nothing else matters.

For the past few days, via telephone, I have been speaking at length with Heather, who writes Little Wonders about her daughter Zoey and the rest of her beautiful family. And direct from the Credit Where Credit is Due Department, this is 100% her idea, I am just the one writing this statement because...well...verbosity and me? We get along.

But it is our intention, along with some friends of hers and possibly others who might wish to participate voluntarily, to make the attempt to finish what has been started that both of us think will not be completed.

Our mission?

We are going to make every effort possible to get these children their iPads. And I don’t mean the contest iPads. I’m talking about this from an entirely different angle, because like I said, as far as I am concerned, those iPads don't exist, because the website says they are not going to ship until this is sorted out, and I do not see that happening.

Now, should I be wrong in this assumption that they are not coming and should the contest iPads show up to the other 38 people at the same time that we hope to be successful in our restoration efforts? So be it, the kids will have two iPads and they can sell one of them, give them away, whatever they please. The iPads will be theirs to do with as they choose

But that is irrelevant to me at the moment, because all that matters to me, to us, from this point forward is restoring some kind of balance, remaining positive, and staying focused on what matters most.

And that’s exactly what we hope to do.

We are, currently, smack dab in the middle of figuring out various ways of exactly how to accomplish this task, which we are calling Mission iPossible!, and as we know more you will know more.

I can tell you that it would take months to establish our own Non-Profit Organization as a 501(c)(3) through the IRS. We do not want to wait months, so we are looking into alternatives. Possibly piggy-backing with an existing 501(c)(3) organization, something like that.

Why do I bring this up? Trust. Because if it comes down to some kind of fund-raising campaign, a 501(c)(3) will provide you with a legitimate tax deduction for larger donations and a record of its existence will be reviewable through the IRS and also through GuideStar, THE source for verification of legitimacy for non-profits. If you want to know if you can trust it? They are the place to check it out.

BUT...other avenues are being explored first, asking for money from this community? That is a LAST step. Not the first. But each step we DO take will be done with full transparency, full disclosure, at every single stop along this road.

As part of that, it should be noted up front that because Heather and I were both contest winners originally, and because we are now both a part of this mission, it is essential that the two of us now, as of this moment, officially remove ourselves as iPad recipients in this restoration effort. It would be a conflict of interest for us to remain as such and also be involved in the process of trying to raise funds or find some other means of procuring iPads for these disabled children.

Like I said.

Full transparency. Full disclosure.

We are going to need to do a lot of things like this on the journey, like the creation of a verification process for the winners, since in the original contest no such process existed, and so on. And like any project, it is very possible that we may fail, but I prefer not to consider that as an option and to remember the old adage of nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Besides, no one ever got anywhere without trying. We certainly, if nothing else at the moment, have a great deal of determination to get us going. It may take some time, but as you know, the clean-up after any disaster is usually a time consuming process.

You should also know that the best way to get through it, the ONLY way, is to put the disastrous event behind you, and move forward.

So that’s what we’re going to do.

OUT.