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CHaD "Roar" Video Goes Viral

CHaD "Roar" Video Goes Viral

More than 2 million hits and counting! The inspirational video featuring young patients, clinical staff and administrators lip-syncing and dancing to Katy Perry's new song "Roar" has become a YouTube sensation.

For the kids at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) the pride and excitement has yet to wear off. For D-H Child Life Specialist Holly Gaspar, who was looking for a way to get the kids moving and doing something positive and fun, the video has exceeded all her expectations. For CHaD it's been a rare opportunity to get their name and services in front of a massive worldwide audience, and for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock community it's been a great morale booster.

Check out D-H employees' reactions to our CHaD "Roar" video.

The Hatching of the Idea

The video was the brainchild of producer Chris Cammock (who was helping CHaD with some branding work and preparing to run the CHaD HERO Half-Marathon with her family).

"The minute I heard the song, I knew it had all the right elements of a pop ballad. The song talks about heroes and being champions, I immediately thought this would be very powerful lip sync. I wanted kids at CHaD roaring." She contacted her brother Nate Larson, a special events planner with CHaD Community Relations, to share her vision and urge him to get permission from Perry to use the singer's new song "Roar."

It turns out, Gaspar had the same reaction when she heard the song on her way to work. Thinking it had the makings of a great anthem for CHaD kids, she spoke to her supervisor about making a video. When Larson discovered the two women shared the same vision, he introduced the pair who put the wheels into motion; and a music video was born.

The Making of the Video

The music video was shot in just one day by videographer Jared Gunnell; Cammock came armed with a storyboard and ideas for choreography, while Gaspar rallied the troops. "When I asked the kids if they could sing a line," says Cammock, "they all knew it. They'd been listening to it on their iPods while at the hospital. When I asked 16-year-old Meghan (one of the stars of the video) to do one line, she just ripped out that whole chorus and just like in the video everything was spontaneous, which made it very natural. We didn't take lots of takes."

"It really was this great collaboration;" says Gaspar, "sort of last minute, which I think sometimes works for people. We tried to work into the video as many people as possible from the clinic nurses, to inpatient residents, to the president."

Katy Perry Signs Off

Originally the video was planned as a creative way to say thank you to participants of the CHaD HERO, the hospital's main fundraiser. "We wanted to bring them in touch directly with the kids they had been working so hard to raise money for," says Larson, "and that's why it was done as quickly as possible."

Larson started cold calling Katy Perry's agent, managing team and publicist, and his persistence finally paid off. A private link was set up on YouTube and within minutes of seeing the video Perry's management team gave the OK for it to go live. The video could not have been posted without it. There's been no ‘direct' contact with Perry, who's been out on tour promoting her new album and the popular tune "Roar," but participants still live in hope.

Going Viral

How do you make a video go viral? That's the question Larson is asked a lot these days by other hospitals looking to duplicate the CHaD video that roared. "The short answer," says Larson "is that the content is honest and authentic with a good message, which comes across in the video. Unfortunately," he says, "I can't tell these other hospitals how to get a million views on their videos."

D-H Director of Web Services Ryan Newswanger says with social media, "It's a totally new world out there, and things can ripple in ways that are completely unprecedented. You can put something on Facebook and people can 'like' it and that's one measure of engagement; but when people 'share it' with their friends and those friends share it with their friends it's crazy what it will do – just the multiplication."

"Going viral was never on my bucket list," Cammock laughingly says, "but I've since added it and now crossed it off."

"We knew it was going to be popular,' says Gaspar, "it's such a trendy song right now and the kid's smiles are delightful." After the video was posted on YouTube Larson and his team used Twitter to urge big media influencers to take a look. Newswanger says, "Big aggregators of content like Huffington Post and BuzzFeed picked it up, and that's when it really went nuts."

"When I went to bed last Tuesday night,"says Newswanger, "the video had 70-thousand views; by Wednesday morning it was at 350-thousand views with comments on the D-H YouTube channel in Japanese, Spanish, and German." Larson says, "We're also hearing from South Africa, Ireland, and England with emails and donations from all over the world; from people who are all learning about Chad."

The Ripple Effect

Cammock says it's been a whirlwind since the video went viral. "I have Katy Perry in my head when I sleep; none of us can sleep properly anymore. I'm just grateful to have been part of sharing this super positive uplifting message."

"There is no ad campaign we could have done, no amount of money we could have spent using traditional means that would have had this result," says Newswanger. "This is incalculable.

The temptation will be to ask, how can we do this again? I don't know if we're ever going to be able to do it again, at least not to this level."

Gaspar believes that part of all this attention has to do with showing the real faces of a children's hospital. "You hear a lot of people say; I got sad, I got happy, I got inspired, I got proud, I felt motivated and to hear people's reactions is really cool."

"When I walk through the hospital", says Larson, "it's not just the CHaD staff that I'm hearing from but housekeepers, administrators, and volunteers, who all say they're feeling a lot of pride about the service they're providing. Everyone is taking ownership of it and feeling like it speaks to why they do what they do."

CNN and Beyond

"The night we filmed CNN", says Gaspar, "the two young ladies in the video were on their phones constantly with message after message from people reaching out to them across the country." Larson says "Maggie and Megan are just totally in awe of how much love and support people are pouring out towards them, from people they've never met. They're online themselves tweeting, so they see it all, they know people all over the world are behind them."

So, why is the video getting all this attention? It's more than just a catchy tune. Some say the planets just aligned with a popular song, Katy Perry touring, and the kids doing such a great job that the video just took off. Others suggest the spirit of the kids, their smiles amid the health challenges they face, and the uplifting message is what resonates with those who see it. Perhaps it's all of the above. As for the thousands of Facebook comments it generated, one of my favorites came from "Snowing 1" who wrote: "Great video. Hope you guys get a visit from Katy. I bought her album because of this video. Next stop your donation page."

As a result of the video, nearly $18,500 in donations have come in; and while it was not the motivation for the Chad HERO video, all agree it is a nice byproduct of what one viewer called the "best superhero movie I've seen."

Check out Chris Cammock's blog post for the rest of the back story in the making of the "Roar" video.

Click here to see the inspiring video of children at CHaD dancing and lip-syncing to "Roar" by Katy Perry.