The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 27, 2013

Teens tweet for good cause

Youth try to help girl with cancer meet Bieber

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

WESTVILLE — Kaleb Smith, a junior at Westville High School, has a message for Justin Bieber.

He would like the teen pop star to meet Murelle Plotner, a St. Joseph eighth-grader who is battling cancer and dreams to meet the singing sensation someday.

Kaleb and other Westville teens hope to reach out to Justin Bieber via social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, in an attempt to make Murelle’s dream come true.

Kaleb, who considers himself “a social media activist,” said the teens “want to do something.”

“We’re trying as hard as possible to get the word out,” he said. “It’s a close-to-home thing for me.”

Starting on Tuesday night, Westville teens were using the hashtag #JustinMeetMurelle and trying to get it to trend on Twitter. As of Wednesday, there were 812 Twitter followers.

Kaleb said the teens’ efforts catapulted the hashtag so it was the top trending topic on Twitter in Chicago for a while. But the teens have loftier goals.

“That little victory was great, but we can still do more,” Kaleb said.

“What everyone is trying to do is to get it to trend nationwide,” he said. “We’re hoping he’ll (Bieber) respond.”

Westville High School senior Aline Dumach said she got involved after seeing Murelle’s story on Twitter.

“I check my Twitter account all the time, and I follow a lot of people,” Aline said.

“This girl at school tweeted about it, so I thought it was an amazing thing to get involved with,” she said.

Aline said she and other teens retweeted the hashtag for about 12 hours straight.

“The Westville kids made it go everywhere,” she said.

A fellow junior from Westville High School, Payton Kirby, made a Facebook page — The #JustinMeetMurelle Movement — on Tuesday.

The page asks for help from Vermilion County residents who would be interested in organizing a walk in Danville and pledging $5 to walk, with all of the money raised going to the Plotner family for hospital bills.

“I just want her to meet Justin Bieber,” Payton said of why she created the Facebook page for Murelle and her family. “I want to do a walk for her family.”

Payton said she first noticed the story about Murelle’s cancer battle and her dream to meet Justin Bieber on Twitter.

“It was posted on Twitter and it kind of went global,” she said.

Kaleb praised his fellow Westville friends saying, “I’ve never seen the youth in this county unite in such a widespread and totally selfless manner.”

On the Net

To help encourage Justin Bieber to meet Murelle Plotner, a St. Joseph eighth-grader battling cancer, use the hashtag #JustinMeetMurelle on Twitter, or to help the Plotner family, view The #JustinMeetMurelle Movement on Facebook.