Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2005]
I am starting a signing for my son's best friend who has cancer (Hodgkin's Lymphoma). He is
I would like you to sign this and pass it on to as many people as you can. Once you get to a thousand people can you please send this back to me at:
When I get the 1000 people that have signed it, I am going to print this up for my son's best friend and show him how many people care and how many people are praying for him to get better. If you have a heart at all you will all do this for me. I love this child as though he is my own and we really need all the prayers!
Please don't just Forward this — copy and paste it into a new message then add your name to the bottom of the list and send it out to as many people as you can and pray for him!
Origins: The above-quoted e-mail, no matter how well intentioned it may once have been, is a textbook example of all the flaws that can afflict
The message requests prayers for a boy suffering from a form of lymphatic cancer, but it provides no identifying information about him: Even such basic information as his first name or the state he lives in is not mentioned; all we're given is his
This e-mailed supplication on behalf of an unnamed child first reached us in August 2005, with the entreaty surviving intact since then, including its misuse of "juggler" (someone who juggles) for "jugular" (pertaining to the neck). While most ask that completed lists of a thousand names be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, some direct them to email@example.com, and others to firstname.lastname@example.org. (
By 2008 this plea was circulating with an introductory line indicating it was issued by Peggy Lesley of Brookwood Church (in Mauldin, South Carolina). However,
"People are e-mailing me. They're asking me questions about this child," she said. "I had some woman call me who said, 'I had a brain tumor and this is how I got rid of it.'"
As the months rolled by, Lesley was receiving thousands of
She also received dozens of phone calls from people across the United States who wanted to know how to help the sick boy.
Lesley explained to as many people as she could that the e-mail with her name on it was a mistake.
She also began to have doubts about the story contained in the original
"I believe it's possible there is no boy," she said. "I believe that this is an email hoax."
Lesley said she still receives 15 to
"I just wish that I would not have sent (the e-mail)," Lesley said.
In March 2009, we received a version that altered the location of Brookwood Church to Thomasville, Georgia.
Perhaps this message was once a well intentioned appeal on behalf of a genuinely ill child, but it is so vague, so old, and has been through so many alterations that it cannot now reasonably be said to represent any real-life case.
Last updated: 10 March 2009
WYFF-TV [Greenville, SC]. "Forwarded E-Mail Backfires." 8 February 2008.