The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 2, 2014

Families, friends look to social media to raise funds in medical emergencies

JOPLIN, Mo. — When Bobbie Pottorff’s stepson Joshua was diagnosed with lymphoma last month, shock soon gave way to a question: Now what?

“We have a 23-year-old son who has cancer, and he’s never been sick a day in his life,” she said.

Joshua is unable to work while undergoing chemotherapy, and medical and other expenses are piling up.

“He had just started out in an electricians union about six months ago,” said Pottorff, of Joplin. “He wanted to have a career and a life and a family. Now he has a port in his chest and he lives with us.”

Facing expensive tests and unsure what insurance eventually will cover after the deductible is met, Pottorff did what many other area residents have done in similar situations: crowdfunding.

Using sites such as Facebook to get the word out about illnesses, injuries and fundraising events, and newer crowdfunding platforms on the Web such as, people in the region and around the country have found that social media can be a critical tool, whether it’s for battling back from cancer or a car accident.

Joshua now has a profile at As of Friday, 14 donors had given $715 toward a $5,000 goal.

“I did it at the advice of a friend whose brother recently was diagnosed with cancer,” Pottorff said. “They told us there will be expenses come up you’ll need that you won’t realize.”

She also wanted a way to share updates on Joshua’s medical status and progress that didn’t require individual calls to each friend and family member — something that can be tedious and draining, she said. allows her to do so within his profile and to share via Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s easier when you have a network of people,” she said. “Rather than make a phone call or texting every single person you know, it’s easier to reach out and make one update for everyone.”

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