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Tweeting for a miracle

Bike-a-Thon supporters reach out to Ellen Degeneres through social media

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Friday, Feb 22, 2013 04:00 pm

HEY ELLEN – (Left to right): Bellerose Bike-a-Thon organizers Sheila Ennin, Hannah Kinsella, Taya Tweten and Marley Reburn take a break while making a video for talk show host Ellen Degeneres. This past week the students also launched a Twitter campaign aimed at making Degeneres aware of the school’s upcoming fundraising event.
HEY ELLEN – (Left to right): Bellerose Bike-a-Thon organizers Sheila Ennin, Hannah Kinsella, Taya Tweten and Marley Reburn take a break while making a video for talk show host Ellen Degeneres. This past week the students also launched a Twitter campaign aimed at making Degeneres aware of the school’s upcoming fundraising event.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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A group of high school students are hoping to gain the attention of daytime talk show host Ellen Degeneres through the power of social media.

Bellerose Composite High School student Hannah Kinsella says the Twitter hashtag #EllenforBikeathon is the school’s ticket to bringing North America’s attention to its annual 48-hour charity stationary bike event, which starts March 6.

Students have been sending out tweets since Wednesday in an attempt to make Degeneres aware of the fundraiser.

Marley Reburn, one of the bike-a-thon organizers, sent out the first tweet – a simple “#EllenforBikeathon” – on Wednesday and soon others were following suit. Kinsella herself tweeted, “@TheEllenShow did you know in 9 years we have raised over $700,000? #EllenForBikeathon”

“It kind of blew up throughout our school and got really big. It has been going all over St. Albert, all over Edmonton … it’s getting quite large,” Kinsella laughed, adding that she has also been in contact with several Edmonton media outlets, both TV and radio, about the effort.

“I’m guessing that it’s going around Alberta,” she said.

Through a Bellerose alumnus, the tweeting team even got into contact with Andy Lassner, the executive producer of Degeneres’ show. He later tweeted, “The kids are doing a nice thing. I’m donating because I hate cancer and, let’s face it, I’m on thin ice with god.”

So far, there has been no direct contact with Degeneres. The talk show host has been known to pay attention to Twitter topics that trend highly. She responded to double lung transplant recipient Hélène Campbell after the 21-year-old Ottawa native resorted to social media to attract attention to the need for organ donors. Campbell was a recent guest on the show.

Kinsella said she doesn’t actually expect the celebrity to attend the Bike-A-Thon but does hope that she can lend her star power by promoting it in some way.

“Maybe if she sent us a Skype message, a video message, even just mentioned us on her show or sent a correspondent up here, it would be the coolest thing ever. Or even just sent a tweet out about us. We just want awareness about what we’re doing,” Kinsella said.

The students even held an impromptu dance party that was filmed and later posted on YouTube under the school’s BelleroseMultimedia channel.

Sue Leighton, the department head of physical education and athletics (and the driving force behind the Bike-a-Thon), thinks what is happening is outstanding, especially because the students are doing it for themselves.

“It had nothing to do with staff. We’ve got our own program and, all of a sudden, we hear from the kids that this has started,” Leighton said. “It’s amazing that the kids feel so passionate about this fundraiser that they want to create worldwide awareness. It’s been really cool! It shows such school pride and initiative.”

The fundraiser helps support the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Kids with Cancer Society. Over the first nine years, it has brought in several hundred thousand dollars. It hopes to break the $1 million mark this year.

Bellerose’s 10th annual Bike-a-Thon takes place from Wednesday, March 6 to Friday, March 8. Information about donating can be found at: albertacancer.ca/bellerose2013.


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