In the past month, eight-year-old Dorian Murray, a Rhode Island resident diagnosed with terminal cancer, has become a trending topic on social media. Telling his dad that before he died he wanted to be famous all over the world, Murray has received thousands of messages with the hashtag #DStrong. Messages even came in from Justin Bieber and other celebrities, and he received a visit from Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.
This Friday the Boston College community joined the rest of the world in fulfilling Murray’s dream of becoming famous. In a two-minute and 30 second video posted on the Church in the 21st Century Center’s (C21) Youtube account—produced by John Walsh, CSOM ’17, and Lea Nelligan, CSON ’18—students from across the BC community joined in a fun and light-hearted tribute to Murray. Within hours of posting the video, it spread across social media and had over 3,000 views.
“I had no idea that this would become this big,” Walsh said.
“As a college student, it is easy to forget about home and about other people’s struggles and pain. It is important to be reminded that there are people suffering and that we can be present to them and make a positive impact when we come together.”
-Lea Nelligan, CSON ’18
The idea for the video came about two weeks before, when Nelligan saw her friends and family posting on social media about Murray and the #DStrong movement. Murray’s story especially hit home with Nelligan, whose mother was diagnosed and treated successfully for cancer when Nelligan was in elementary school.
“I was thinking that it would be nice to take a picture of a bunch of students at the next Agape Latte event holding signs saying that he was famous at BC,” Nelligan said.
Nelligan proceeded to email Karen Kiefer, the associate director of the C21 Center who helps put on the Agape Latte events, about her idea and they both decided to do some kind of tribute for Murray at the February Agape Latte event. The day of the event, Nelligan discussed her idea with Walsh as they were making signs for the picture. Walsh, who had produced the “Boston College Shake It Off” video last year, had the idea to make a video using all different groups from the BC community dancing, holding signs, and saying “Dorian, you’re famous at BC.”
Walsh and Nelligan spent that week contacting different student groups, professors, and administrators asking if they would participate in the video. The video features several dance teams, the pom squad, the Appalachia group, the marching band, and classes in Devlin 008.
“Everyone we asked to help out with the video was so generous, which I think is a great testament to the BC community,” Walsh said. “I apologized to Fuego [the Latin dance team] when we asked to shoot during their practice, but they said, ‘No problem. Our time is your time.’”
Because of the outpouring of support during the production and the response that the video received, both Walsh and Nelligan described the experience as humbling and inspiring.
“As a college student, it is easy to forget about home and about other people’s struggles and pain,” Nelligan said. “It is important to be reminded that there are people suffering and that we can be present to them and make a positive impact when we come together.”
As Walsh and Nelligan hoped, the video created enough traffic on the Internet that it reached Murray’s family. By Friday afternoon, Murray’s grandmother, who saw the video that morning, sent an email to the Office of Public Affairs expressing her heartfelt thanks for the support and solidarity in the BC community.
For the Murray family, the video could not have come at a better time. The Facebook page “Praying for Dorian,” which has close to 100,000 likes and thousands of messages of support to Murray and his family, was hacked on Thursday night and had to be shut down. The BC video was able to divert attention away from this unfortunate situation and continue the message of love and support for Murray.
The video ends by fading to a black background with the words, “You’ve inspired hearts around the world. And now you’re forever famous.”
Photo Courtesy of Church in the 21st Century