Friday, 25 March 2011
Dublin Twestival. Pint, Tweet, Meet, Tweet, Support, Tweet
2 months was all it took. 2 months to use the power of technology, the weapon that is social media, to organise and hold an event that would change lives.
The Dublin Twestival, held last night in conjunction with around 200 cities globally, saw over 80 people getting together to raise money towards sending Ireland's Special Olympic athletes to Athens for this year's games.
As of 10pm, over 150 cities around the world were online, connected in the pursuit of raising money towards those most in need. As one tweeter at last night's event put it, it was 'social media at its best'. Gene Murphy, upon hearing of this, put it most succinctly - 'That's Mad.'
Paddy Cullivan started the night, hosting, singing, playing and cracking jokes. He did say, in jest, that although the night was about tweeting, we were 'in a room full of real human beings' as well. The crowd responded, by combining the best of digital interaction with the best of personal interaction. One of the funniest moments for myself was watching the crowd simultaneously dancing and tweeting, as rockers Blood on the Stereo took to the stage to rock out.
Dublin's Twestival owes a lot to Adrian McMahon and Gene Murphy, the two organisers who've put their backs in over the last couple of months to make the event happen. Big thanks must also go out to Eircom, for being major sponsors of the event. Eircom have also been working with the Special Olympics team to develop an app that will allow athletes to send personalised 'thank you' messages to those around the country who are giving what they can to support the team's venture in Greece. Again, it shows the power of technology in bringing us all together.
Sahra O'Neill, from Ireland's Special Olympics Committee, got up to say a few words, noting that it was truly a 'unique experience' that will change the lives not only of the athletes involved, but also of their families and those around them. I spoke to Sahra afterwards, and she told me that the biggest issue with the Special Olympics in Ireland is that, after the World Games held here, many perceive it to have been a one-off event. To the contrary, there are around 11,000 athletes who train constantly over four years to reach their full potential. 126 of these athletes will be going to the Olympics, but there is a constant need of support for these athletes and that is something which we must not forget. Ireland is the number one country in the world for charity, having donated more throughout history than any other. This is a ranking which Ireland should be immensely proud of and, even in times of economic difficulty, can continue striving to maintain.
Adrian McMahon also put the whole Twestival event in a different perspective. It's not just about the two months leading up to it, nor just about the night itself. It's also about the months following, where we can all continue tweeting and posting, striving to raise as much money as we can. It will cost around 3600 Euros per athlete for this year's games. So keep tweeting, and let the exponential power of social media do its most towards uniting us for such an amazing cause.
Silicon Ireland was honoured to be involved and to do what little we could to help out this amazing crew. For more information on Ireland's Special Olympics team, go to www.specialolympics.ie