Stop the Craig Shergold Madness


The Craig Shergold Madness is my name for the idiocy caused by well-meaning people who aren't aware that the Craig Shergold story is very old news. Years ago a British child tried to get into the Guinness Book of Records by asking people to send him 1 million get-well cards.

Over the years Craig has been treated for his cancer and is in remission but the Craig Shergold Madness continues. Nobody is able to stop the spread of letters to people who've never read about it in their local newspaper.

Here is a letter to "Action Line," printed in the (San Jose Mercury News) on November 3, 1996, followed by their response; and then a "reaction" from a reader, printed on November 8, 1996.

Q. We are responding to a request that business cards be sent to 7-year-old Craig Shergold, who has a brain tumor and has very little time to live. The boy and the Make-A-Wish Foundation want him to hold the world record for the most business cards received. We feel this is a worthwhile cause. Please send your business card to Craig and retype this letter on your letterhead stationery and mail it to 20 companies. Attached are lists of 100 or so companies that recently received this letter.

--(well-meaning executive)
--(Silicon Valley company)

A. We don't think so. This is a hoax letter that the Sherfold family and the Make-A-Wish Foundation have tried to stop since 1990. But it's like fighting a forest fire with a squirt gun. This letter first appeared in 1988, and Craig did have a malignant brain tumor. His wish was to collect get-well cards (not business cards) to breat the Guinness record, which was then 1 million. The Make-A-Wish Foundations in Georgia took up the cause and he beat the record with more than 33 million cards. Then a philanthropist paid for Craig and his family to travel from his home in London to Virginia, where the tumor was successfully removed. He's now in remission and 15 years old. But there doesn't seem to be any stopping the spreading of this letter, which has been mentioned both in Action Line and Ann Landers numerous times. Maybe the way to stop this chain letter is to join it! Maybe you should make 20 copies of this column about chain letters and send it to 20 companies asking each of them to send to 20 more, and so on . . .

Reaction: Shergold hoax

This is regarding the Sunday (Nov. 3) Action Line article on the Craig Shergold hoax chain letter. You're absolutely right. I've been trying without success to notify anyone sending me this to stop.

I called Make-A-Wish in Atlanta and found out that because of the enormous administrative task this hoax has caused, the foundation now has an 800 number for people who want "reassurance" that this is a hoax. The number is (800) 215-1333, prompt 184. This hoax has caused unbelievable work, not to mention costs, to a very admirable charity. I thought sharing this phone number might help reach more people.

--Cynthia Dunivant, Los Altos

Go to the official Make-A-Wish Foundation ® web site for the full story.

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Created on November 10, 1996.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA