Hi all – We are long overdue for an update on Sally, she spent 48 hours admitted this week with what turned out to be an e-coli infection on her central line. We have to give her two weeks of strong antibiotics in order to keep her home. When Nicole and I actually have some time together, and we’re not in hospitals or buried at work, we’ll sit down and update you on all of our ups and downs the last few weeks.

However since I couldn’t sleep we wanted to tell you about some exciting news that’s been happening over the last two weeks, especially for those not following Sally on Facebook. Nicole, Sally and I have been in the news a lot recently along with other parents drawing some huge attention to pediatric cancer.

It all started a few weeks ago when Brynlee’s mom (we shared a room with her months ago and Sally gave all of us the neuro virus, sorry again Melissa!) sent me a note saying that a dad who lost his son to cancer requested that the Empire State Building light up gold one night, but was turned down.

I had heard of Tony Stoddard and his A Day of Yellow and Gold to Fight Childhood Cancer quest to light as many buildings gold in the country as possible to honor his son Cole. I also knew the history of the ESB with lighting where they refused to back down when they wouldn’t light up for Mother Theresa which created a media frenzy. So I decided to post a photo of Sally to their page and politely ask them to reconsider for kids like her, and encouraged others to do the same through Sweet Sally Sunshine. I figured they’d reply with a standard reply and that’d be that. I was wrong.

ESB Deleted Post


They deleted Sally’s photo, and other posts from the page. No reply, no comment, just deleted. As somebody who works in marketing, Social Media Marketing 101 is you don’t delete posts unless they’re threatening or contain harsh language, of which none of our posts did in any way. Let alone a photo of a 22 month old little girl battling cancer pushing her chemo IV pole. I quickly shared a screengrab of Sally’s post missing from the page with Sally’s followers, with Truth365 sharing an image of Sally with the words “DELETED by the Empire State Building” over her face to their 50,000 followers.

This set off a firestorm, a giant had been awoken. Parents from all over the country took to the ESB Facebook page, having posts deleted. The ESB switched tactics and started hiding posts, anything with the word Gold or cancer in it was removed. I don’t know if it was suppressed anger from the last year with everything Sally has gone through, but this set me off personally. As Nicole said – The Empire State Building poked the bear. Camille from Frankie’s Mission sent me a note and said we couldn’t let them get away with this. So we formed a little team of Camille, Melissa, Tony, Enza from the local Olivia Boccuzzi Foundation, and friends from Truth365, all of whom had battled childhood cancer. We created a hashtag on my page, verified it wasn’t already being used, which would take us places we didn’t imagine – #EmpireGoGold

#empiregogold Decision

We got the hashtag out there and with some amazing graphic design work by my friend Christine people started using it on everything. Sites and handles with it popped up organically from other parents battling the disease nationally, it was a true grassroots movement starting to take off. Camille had the idea to write up a press release, which our friends Kristen and Sharon from Bay Ridge Cares beautified. We sent it out to contacts waiting for a bite. Fortunately my friend Colleen from college had friends at the local Fox affiliate here in NYC. They reached out and told us they’d have a camera crew at MSKCC the next day and to bring 1-2 other families. So Nicole, Sally, Camille, Melissa, Brynlee, Alex (a young woman battling Leukemia) and her mom Paula stood out front and were interviewed by a reporter for the very first interview.

We didn’t know what to expect as we’d all been burned by the media before with them fluffing stories. Instead, Fox 5 delivered back to back hard hitting stories that took off, reporting how the building went green for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, pink for breast cancer and finally that week, blue for the Democratic National Convention. All of these were reasons (commercial, specific diagnosis, political) that the ESB said they would not light for, yet their hypocrisy was on full display.

Fox Interview



From there the numerous articles hit the wire, everything from our local Bay Ridge news to the NY Daily News to the Daily Mail in London. Friends at Bay Ridge Cares managed to get Alex on the Today Show with the hashtag. A celebrity rapper named Tyga tweeted it to millions of fans. People were enraged at the ESB, and rightfully so. We started to see an angle where the conservative news media began using this as a way to attack Democrats since the building went blue for them but not gold for kids with cancer, likely flamed by some parents who hoped it would get the story national. We had no desire in having this pursued, as we need everybody’s help despite party affiliation and didn’t want it to turn into another Mother Theresa debacle. We quickly got this shot down by encouraging our local politicians from both parties to stand together and call for the ESB to go gold, which killed that angle dead in it’s tracks.

ESB Pols

Republicans and Democrats together call for the ESB to go gold.

ESB Camille

And then the unthinkable happened, in direct response to #EmpireGoGold the world famous Parachute Drop in Coney Island announced it would go gold for a week in September. It was huge having an iconic structure (with an awesome LED lighting system) back us up. It energized us. But then, the ESB released a statement trying to play itself as a victim with spun facts and accusations of us being bullies. It really hit us parents hard personally to be called bullies, considering everything we have and are going through with our kids battling cancer. We took our time and with help from many supporters released a well prepared response, answering every accusation with facts shooting down the ESB Statement.

#EmpireGoGold ESB Reply

From there, the amazing happened – Times Square announced that they too would go gold. Tears came to all involved, it was a major victory, Clear Channel executives had seen the news and wanted to know that they stood by us, the crossroads of the world would support our kids.

Times Square ESB

The news continues to grow, towns like Bay Ridge and Staten Island have set up movements to have homes and business go gold next month. Even P Diddy tweeted the news to 10 million followers this week.


However, a reporter at Fox 5 by the name of Joel Waldman has taken this on passionately, reporting on it almost nightly carrying all of the updates. He has helped bring to light the challenges our kids face, his reports bringing much needed attention to our cause. We can’t thank him enough for listening to our stories and being a voice for our kids.


All of the numerous news stories have been collected and can be viewed by clicking here. Yesterday it was announced that One World Trade, the tallest building in the western hemisphere, will go gold. They join the Helmsley Building of midtown and others sure to come. On September 2nd and beyond, the Manhattan Skyline is going to be gold, except for one building. There are a lot of us working together on this, too many to name and thank everyone. We aren’t going to give up on the ESB just yet. We’re going to do everything in our power to honor the promise Tony made to his dying son Cole, and the other kids who are no longer with us like Frankie, Olivia, Mac and Isabelle. #EmpireGoGold.


If you want to help, please make a donation to our WorldGoGold fund we have set up at Memorial Sloan Kettering, which every dollar raised will go to pediatric cancer research. You can find a link by clicking here.

Please keep Sally and the other kids fighting for their lives in your thoughts and prayers.


12 Responses

  1. Jeanine
    Jeanine August 22, 2014 at 7:36 am | | Reply

    Our thoughts are with you! Keep up the amazing work you are doing to bring awareness to this awful disease.
    Shame on you, ESB!!
    Love to all,

  2. Sandra
    Sandra August 22, 2014 at 8:36 am | | Reply

    You are AMAZING what you have accomplished for pediatric cancer. So happy Sally is home. Keep us the good work for Sally and all children who suffer this horrible disease. I agree, shame on you ESB. So proud to be from Bay Ridge! STAY STRONG!

  3. Cheryl
    Cheryl August 22, 2014 at 8:47 am | | Reply

    I 100% agree that ESB should be VERY ashamed. I can’t help but think, though, that this situation has actually brought the pediatric cancer awareness campaign a lot more attention than if the ESB had just “gone gold” in the first place. Personally, I would like to see the whole world “go gold” ALL month (every month)!

  4. Colleen
    Colleen August 22, 2014 at 8:58 am | | Reply

    Matt, this is amazing! I’ve been following the story for the most part, but missed some of the details, so thanks for the recap. I think about you guys and pray for you always…Lots of love to you all, especially your little fighter! 🙂

  5. Sister Virginia
    Sister Virginia August 22, 2014 at 9:28 am | | Reply

    Good for you, Matt! I guess no one at ESB or their family members has ever been touched by any form of cancer, let alone pediatric cancer. Aren’t they lucky to have the luxury to be so ignorant?
    Continues prayers for all of you, as you ready the boys to go back to school.

  6. Sara Shull
    Sara Shull August 22, 2014 at 10:44 am | | Reply

    We love the Growing Gold movement, and so sorry to hear about Sally’s infection! You guys are amazing to do all this during active treatment! We were really too overwhelmed and exhausted to reach out like you have done. Amazing! Praying for Sally and all of you. Hope you get some rest in the middle of all of this.

  7. Jenn
    Jenn August 22, 2014 at 10:49 am | | Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I am a producer at 1010 WINS News Radio. Would love to talk to you about #EmpireGoGold. Please send me an email at jgrod@wins.com.


  8. Megan
    Megan August 22, 2014 at 11:08 am | | Reply

    This is so amazing! I’m so happy for you and all the parents battling for their little ones! Sally has outstanding role models in you, her parents. It is easy to see where her fighting ability comes from! Hoping for more and more exposure to the real issue – much needed research funding!

  9. RachelGoldman
    RachelGoldman August 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm | | Reply

    The Empiregogold movement has been incredible, bringing much needed awareness to childhood cancer. Your post described the timeline well and your news segments were awesome, but this social media campaign has been a unified effort of MANY organizations as you know. I’m surprised that you failed to mention The Ronan Thompson Foundation, which has hundreds of thousands of followers (via twitter, fbook, rockstarronan.com etc) that played an instrumental role in spreading the hashtag, reaching out to Huffington Post, and also Taylor Swift. Let’s keep this a combined and unified effort for the children and hope more and more buildings continue to light gold this september!

  10. Tom Miller
    Tom Miller August 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm | | Reply

    I made a contribution to MSK yesterday but did not know your WorldGoGold name. I just put Pediatric Cancer Research. I hope this gets to your fund.
    Go Sally. Go Bills.

  11. Mark Myers
    Mark Myers August 24, 2014 at 8:59 am | | Reply

    Great stuff. Thank you for making us aware. SmileyForKylie has been tweeting and instagraming with you from the south. I, too, am in marketing and have watched with wonder how the ESB responded. Very amateurish, but worse when you consider what they are turning down and how they are doing it. This isn’t a cartoon character or brand, it’s children struggling for their life. Just crazy.

    Keep up this fight, we are with you.

  12. Michael Wiggins
    Michael Wiggins August 25, 2014 at 9:47 pm | | Reply

    We love the determination and love you and Nicole show for Sally and all kids with cancer. Keep it up—we will win this battle some day, even if we have to shame all those who refuse to stand up for babies, infants, toddlers, kids, pre-teens and teens struck unnecessarily and unjustly with cancer.
    For all those lost and all those fighting like hell just to go home and play with their siblings, thank you Matt and Nicole
    Michael and Melissa Wiggins
    Dad and Mum to Cannon

Leave a Reply