An Elkhart woman took the message of Sarah Strong to New York City and got an assist from hip-hop celebrity Cee Lo Green.
ELKHART — Supporters of Sarah Crane took the message of ‘Sarah Strong’ to the Big Apple Monday, Oct. 14, and are hoping for an interview on the “Today Show” Tuesday, Oct. 15.
In much the same way that community support has snowballed for the teen cancer victim, Heathyr Harkless’s effort started small and suddenly gained unexpected momentum as she planned a trip to New York City.
Harkless, an Elkhart woman who is celebrating her 30th birthday with a trip to New York, said she wanted to take a few Sarah Strong T-shirts and distribute them to people in New York.
But before she knew it, people started offering help and she ultimately took a bundle of shirts and decided to promote the cause outside of NBC’s “Today Show” studios.
She and a friend showed up at 5 a.m. Monday and were directed by the Today Show staff to the best place to stand in the outdoor area to display a banner they had brought.
Situated in the perfect position, Harkless eventually found herself in position to hand one of the purple Sarah Strong shirts to Cee Lo Green, a hip-hop entertainer who was making an appearance on the show.
“I handed him a shirt and he thought I wanted him to sign it and I said, ‘No, take it,’” Harkless said in a phone interview Monday morning.
Among the support Harkless received as she planned her trip: Somebody helped cover the cost of extra luggage to transport the shirts and Fastsigns, an Elkhart company, donated a banner, which was displayed outside of NBC studios and now has dozens of signatures from people.
Among those signing were Cee Lo, members of the NYPD, and people from Tibet, Australia, Taiwan and Poland, Harkless said.
And despite the initial success on Monday, Harkless said she intends to return Tuesday morning in hopes of gaining an interview with one of the Today Show anchors.
To increase the chances of an interview, though, supporters of Crane are hoping to make it a trending topic on Twitter. That means connecting the #Sarahstrong hashtag with @TODAYshow on Twitter — plus any anchor names associated with the show.
The show can be seen locally on WNDU from 7 to 11 a.m.
Harkless said that as they distributed some of the shirts and told people of Crane’s battle with cancer, many people were taken aback about Crane being just 15-years old.
And she added, “They’re amazed we’re not asking for money.”
Harkless, in a post on Facebook, said she lost her father, sister and three grandparents to cancer.
“I felt so deeply in my heart upon hearing about Sarah’s story and wanted to figure out how myself and my business could help,” Harkless wrote.
Harkless owns a photography business, House of Harkless, based in Goshen.
The best way to keep updated on Crane’s condition and ongoing fundraising efforts is through a Facebook page operated by her family, which has more than 6,700 followers as of Monday morning. To find the page, search #sarahstrong on Facebook.