DON'T SEND CARDS! Here is the Truth about Craig
Bruce Harper (bharper@VT.EDU)
Fri, 5 May 1995 10:38:11 +0900
On 5/5/95, Lawson Dickson wrote:
>I received this note today and it appears like something Scouts could help out
>with at little expense or other ill-effects.
>Craig Sherford is a seven year old who is suffering from terminal
>cancer. It is his wish to be included in the Guiness Book of World
>Records for the most business cards collected by one person.
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!
Attached is a message I saved (as the message suggests at the end) with the
definitive answers about "Craig Sherford" [sic]. In addition to debunking
the urban legend about Craig, the message offers a good suggestion about
how better to help those in need with donations that _really_ make a
Please spread the word, Craig is alive and well and doesn't need cards.
Bruce in Blacksburg Webelos Den Leader, Pack 56, Blacksburg
urban/alt_folklore #2079, from usenet, 5282 chars, Thu Feb 20 09:00:26 1992
Subject: DO NOT SENT ANY "GET WELL, POST, BUSINESS" CARDS TO CRAIG SHERGOLD!
From: cep@Apple.COM (Christopher Pettus)
Date: 20 Feb 92 07:13:23 GMT
Organization: Taligent, Inc.
This was recently posted on news.announce.important; it's a good
summary of the Craig situation, for those awkward social moments when
your host at a party is passing the hat asking for business cards for
the poor widdle dying boy in England, who we can't miss because he
won't go away.
Article 49 of news.announce.important:
>From: email@example.com (Gene Spafford)
Subject: DO NOT SENT ANY |GET WELL, POST, BUSINESS| CARDS TO CRAIG SHERGOLD!
Date: 17 Feb 92 19:43:21 GMT
Organization: SERC, Department of Computer Sciences, Purdue Univ.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City
If you call the "Children's Make a Wish" foundation, you will find
that they are not soliciting any form of card for Craig Shergold or
anyone else. Better yet, if you call the Guinness people (US
publisher is "Facts on File" @ (212)683-2244 ext. 336), you can get
this same story confirmed. You will also find that they will no
longer endorse or support any effort to break this record.
Many years ago, Craig Shergold had a brain tumor, believed inoperable.
He sought to set the Guinness record for get-well cards. The call was
well-publicized, and he did, indeed set the record (consult a recent
edition of the book --- he has received in excess of 16 million cards
to date; he officially set the record as of 17 Nov 1989).
As part of this whole story, his plight caught the attention of John
Kluge, the US billionaire, who paid for Craig to come to the US and
receive specialized treatment. As a result, Craig has recovered
completely from his tumor. He is also no longer seven, but well into
his teens (you can see how out-of-date the request for cards is from
this -- it's like circulating a letter encouraging people to vote for
Carter for President).
The problem is that the mimeographed sheets and letters seeking cards
for Craig have continued to be circulated. As a result, cards
continue to pour in to the post office for Royal Marsden Hospital in
England. Worse, the appeal has mutated into various other versions,
such as an appeal for business cards, one for postcards, and another
version that appeals for holiday cards.
The Shergold family has publicly appealed many times that people cease
to mail them cards and letters, and that no more appeals be made on
their behalf. One easily accessible way to verify this is with the
article on page 24 of the 19 July 1990 NY Times. People Magazine wrote
an article about it on June 1, 1991, page 63. Even Ann Landers has
carried an item on this [6/23/91], but people still keep trying to send
cards. Both Guinness and Royal Marsden have repeatedly issued press
releases asking people to stop circulating requests for cards, as they
are creating an undue burden on both the hospital and the postal service.
The Guinness people have discontinued the category to prevent this
kind of thing from ever happening again, and are doing their utmost to
kill any further mailings. The Royal Marsden Hospital is at a loss
what to do with the cards that continue to arrive --- most are being
sold to stamp collectors and paper recyclers, and none go on to Craig.
This appeal for Craig, as well as many urban legends, regularly appear
on electronic bulletin boards around the world, and in many
organizational newsletters and bulletins. It is both heartening and
unfortunate that there are so many well-meaning people who continue to
propagate these stories. It is too bad that so many people are
unwilling to verify their information before passing such things
along, especially when a simple phone call will suffice to do so. In
this case, opening a recent copy of a book carried by nearly every
library and bookstore would illuminate the situation.
If you would still like to do something for a dying child, consider
making a donation to a charity such as UNICEF or to the International
Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Magen David). Many thousands of children
are dying daily around the world from disease and starvation, and
countless millions more are suffering from the ravages of war, famine,
disease, and natural disaster. Think how many of them might be helped
by the millions of dollars in postage spent on cards to Craig
Shergold.... Addresses (in US) are:
UNICEF American National Red Cross
1 UN Plaza 17th & D Streets
New York, NY 10017 Washington, DC 20006
Attn: international children's aid
[Also, I encourage you to save this announcement, in either electronic
or hard copy form, and to post it to any bulletin board you've seen the
original plea on. If you see it in the future, as you probably will,
you can attach a copy of this announcement. Wouldn't it be great to
finally kill this story, which spreads like a virus? - MRH]
Professor Gene Spafford
Dept. of Computer Sciences
W. Lafayette IN 47907-1398