I first met Bibs in what feels like another lifetime for both of us: during O Week at Macquarie University at the start of 2006. After many years out of touch, we recently reconnected.
While I found Bibs to be just as kind, brilliant and quirky as he was over a decade before, I was sad to discover that he was also very unwell. Long term complications from an illness were severely limiting his diet, sleep, social life and capacity to work.
Bibs is a private person who doesn’t tend to share much about his health, especially on social media. But all that changed on his birthday this November.
Faced with skyrocketing medical costs, the impending completion of his degree and inadequate reserves to get there without additional expensive treatment, Bibs set up a fundraising page on Facebook. For a limited time the curtains were drawn back.
There were details, pictures and regular updates, giving all of Bibs’ friends and followers clear insight into the daily costs – financial and otherwise – of living with his condition. And this brave exposure paid off in spades.
Within one hour his initial fundraising goal had been smashed. So he upped it, increasing his expectations as to what level of support might be possible.
And kept upping it, the second target met within a day. In less than one month, he had raked in well over ten times his original dollar amount.
This five-figure reward may well be the best birthday present Bibs will ever receive. Not only will the generosity of his social media connections enable him to pay for the treatment he needs to finish his degree; the excess will make a sizeable dent in his ongoing medical costs.
But perhaps the most lasting impact for Bibs is the realisation of just how many people in his life – close, peripheral and friends of friends – genuinely care about his wellbeing and are willing to help out.
In a world and a social media universe where stinginess, bigotry and self-promotion often reign, Bibs’ birthday triumph is a true good news story.