Craig Shergold, An Urban Legend – This is a Writer’s Block that came from LiveJournal. I use to be a LiveJournal user. This question was posted.
Craig Shergold, An Urban Legend
Do you have a favorite urban legend?
Yes, My favorite one is the story about Craig Shergold. It was about a boy with brain tumor that wanted greetings cards and it got switched and said business cards.
I posted about this back in 2005.
When did you first hear it?
I first heard about it from the International Business Card Collectors (IBCC). It was well told, since we all collect business cards.
What’s the story behind the story?
I am reposting my post from 2005 below …
I have been getting a lot of this lately. I have sent off a tons of business cards to this young boy dying of cancer… I hate to tell you this, this has been going on since 1980’s. It started out he really wanted greeting cards, but changed to business cards. If you send any mail to the Make-A-Wish foundation, it will go to lost mail. Lost mail is unclaimed mail. This is what I mention in my web site about it:
Old Chain letters
An old chain letter still circulating around the internet and other ways (Since 1989). This is for a young boy named Craig Shergold. He was asking for business cards as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Well, it is false, he wasn’t looking for business cards, but greeting cards instead. But no need for them now! Please if you get this delete and tell the people that sent it about the legend and refer them to the web sites about it. It is just an urban legend. Read about the legend. Find about other False Make-A-Wish Foundation Chain letters.
This is copy-pasted from http://www.wish.org/home/chainletters.htm web site about it:
If you receive a chain letter…
- Please reply to the sender and inform him or her that the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not participate in these kinds of wishes.
- Refer the sender and all recipients to this page.
- Please do not forward the chain letter.
Craig Shergold, Craig Sheldon, Craig Sheppard, Craig Shelton, and Craig Shelford
In 1989, a then 9-year-old boy named Craig Shergold wanted to be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records for receiving the most greeting cards. His wish was fulfilled by another wish-granting organization not associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
You can also find more information by googling this. You will find a whole bunch of info. I would like to thank the newspapers that are making it public that is a false one. So remember to check things out. Not everything you see or read on the internet is true.
This was taken from http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/children/shergold.htm:
Claim: A child dying of cancer in England needs your business cards to get into the Guinness World Book of Records.
Origins: An urban legend rivaled in tenacity by only the infamous Cookie Recipe (and even that monster runs a distant second), this appeal from a dying child touches the generosity in all of us and taps into our urge to do something — anything — in the face of unthinkable tragedy. In a perfect world, children wouldn’t die of horrible diseases. Our natural impulse upon encountering such cosmic injustice is to look for some way to make up for the tragedy. That such a child would have a final wish — and especially that the wish would be such a simple one — moves us to action. We can do little to alter the harsh reality of young lives snuffed out by incurable disease, but we can collect a few business cards. So we do.
Good Intentions wreak havoc
It’s hard to believe that so much good will and fine intentions could wreak havoc, but they have. And they still are.
There really is a Craig Shergold, and he did have cancer. In 1989 an appeal was made on behalf of this then 9-year-old English boy afflicted with a terminal brain tumor. Young Craig wanted to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for having received the most greeting cards. By 1990, 16 million cards had arrived, and his wish had come true. (According to the 1997 edition of that book, by May 1991 he had collected 33 million.)
Ah, but that was then, and this is now. Shergold’s tumor was successfully removed in March 1991, and this lad (born 24 June 1979) is now a healthy young man. However, like the implements in the Sorceror’s Apprentice, the cards and letters have proved impossible to stop — they just keep rolling in. Several versions of the Craig Shergold appeal still circulate, and almost every one of them now asks for business cards, not greeting cards. (In yet another form of the same hoax, compliments slips are solicited.)
Other names used
The child’s name also gets munged on a regular basis. “Craig Shelford“ and “Craig Stafford“ and “Craig Sheppard“ and “Greg Sherwood“ are common variations, but there’s a double handful of similar-sounding names out there too. With some of the names, it’s difficult at first to be sure if they’re Shergold mungings (“John Craig“ comes immediately to mind. And yes, it is.) In those cases, a quick look at the address where the cards or slips are to be mailed will settle matters — many Shergold appeals direct mail to an address on Selby, Selsby, or Shelby Road. (The real Craig Shergold did at one time live on Shelby Road in Carshalton, England. The family has since left that address.)
One of the addresses used in the “request for cards“ letter is that of the “81 Perimeter Center East“ in Atlanta, which before the emergence of the hoax was the office of the Children’s Wish Foundation International. The foundation had to relocate because of all the unwanted Shergold mail. The U.S. Postal Service in Atlanta holds the hoax mailings (now more than 100 million) for a required length of time and, after they remain unclaimed, releases them to an Atlanta paper recycler. So end all those thousands of business cards everyone was scurrying around to gather up and mail off.
A related “dying wish“ request goes out in the name of Ryan McGee of Virginia. (His name is sometimes munged as Ron McKee.) Though the child is real and he is battling a form of cancer (for which the prognosis is, and always has been, good), the request being made in his name is not. He never expressed any wish for cards or to get into the record books. Somewhere along the line, someone starred him in a version of the Craig Shergold hoax, transforming him into a dying child with a jones for cards.
Because of the volume of mail being sent to his home, the family halted mail delivery to their address. They also moved. To give you an idea of how specious appeals like these can impact real people, a woman with the same last name who lives in that area is contemplating getting an unlisted number — there have been days when she’s found 18 messages on her answering machine from people looking for information about the boy.
Though the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America has never been involved with this appeal, it became a permanent fixture in the standard chain letter. Kind-hearted souls are invariably directed to mail business card offerings to it. Make-A-Wish has made repeated requests that “people please stop sending business cards or greeting cards to Craig Shergold“ but these continue to go unheeded. They’ve set up a special 800 number people can call to hear a recorded message about Craig Shergold and Ryan McGee: 800-215-1333. They also have a Craig Shergold web page.
Guinness World Records
Having learned its lesson about Pandora’s Box and dying child appeals, Guinness World Records retired the category for the most get-well cards, leaving Craig’s 1992 record of 33 million unchallenged. Cards continue to flow in, though, and the latest guesstimate has it that over 200 million have been received. Years ago Craig’s Shelby Road home was granted the British equivalent of its own postal code.
Guinness explains its position very clearly in the FAQ on their web site, saying of Shergold record:
This record attempt has ceased. Many years ago, a boy fighting cancer started a campaign for people to send him get-well messages in order to set a record for the most items received. Not only was that boy successful in getting a mention in the 1991 edition of the Guinness World Records book, he also made a full recovery. However, since then chain mails have started up with variations on the original story, some requesting business cards or compliments slips rather than get-well messages. If you get any such request, please destroy it, and if anyone asks you about it, please tell them it is a hoax!
Make-A-Wish and Guinness World Records aren’t the only ones pleading for the madness end: both Craig and his parents have granted a number of interviews in an attempt to put an end to this, including an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America on 26 October 1997. No such luck so far though.