My Two Favorite Dorks

My Two Favorite Dorks

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Results Are In

Sam became quite the celebrity because of our video

Most of you know that we submitted an adorable video of Sam telling everyone what he would do with $1,000 to a contest in hopes of winning a first-class trip for two to Las Vegas. We did not win - in fact, we were disqualified unfairly at the last minute. But truth be told, there was never a dull moment from the time we made our submission. Here's the whole story.

We Can Win This!

From the moment Todd found out about this contest, he was excited in a way that I truthfully have never seen him excited about winning anything. "We can win this" he kept telling me. 

He had the perfect idea for the $1,000 - giving it to his cousin Fran's three kids for a college fund. Fran has been fighting breast cancer for four plus years. She is currently in end stage. It was an awesome cause and one that all of our family and friends would get behind to support.

I came up with the idea of having one of our dogs star in a video - Sam got the part because he was able to sit still for longer! We wrote some dialogue, got Sam on the couch with the incentive of a handful of treats and with two takes and some amateur video editing - voila! - the Sam video was born.

The Honeymoon Phase

Things were going great for the first few days! We emailed our family, friends and co-workers; folks were on board and excited to vote. Fran was thrilled. We were only the second video up on the site and we were killing the other ones that joined after us. We were feeling cautiously optimistic that we had a good chance to win.

The First Incident of Drama

About a week in, a very negative comment appeared on our video from someone who claimed to be representing (i.e. was hiding behind) a high school "Students Against Destructive Decisions" (the evolution of the Students Against Drunk Driving) group The comment went something like this: Shame on you for trying to win a trip to Las Vegas for yourself by trying to gain sympathy off of someone with cancer.

The person went on to say that if we really cared about people with cancer, we would give the trip to the person with cancer instead of taking it ourselves (against the contest rules) and we would donate the $1,000 directly to people with cancer. Uh-huh.... Clearly this person missed the point of the contest being to say what we would do with $1,000 and that it would most definitely be benefiting someone with cancer.

In any case, we were completely offended by this guy's comment, although it was also obvious that he was just a young, idealistic kid spouting off so we didn't take it too seriously. A little digging into who exactly this guy was  (the guy was two years out of high school by now) revealed that he was a friend of one of the other contestants - scandalous! We contacted him and he removed his comment promptly - hopefully with his tail between his legs.

Things Heating Up!

From the time that Paul posted his video asking for help paying medical bills and a remote control truck for his son, we knew he was a real threat. We already had a lot of votes at the time but he was acquiring votes at a rapid rate. Still we did our best to encourage our friends and family to keep voting.

Something Suspicious

At the same time, we started to notice something fishy about how Paul was acquiring votes. A little digging revealed that he was part of a ring of vote swapping people who trade votes to win contests. We felt this was incredibly unfair and, after getting sufficient evidence, contacted the credit union running the contest to let them know what was going on.

We asked them, if Paul is doing this, then can we? They said yes. Caught up in a 'fight fire with fire' moment, Todd did solicit a few votes for our video in this manner. But he quickly stopped, feeling like it was not right and deciding that he would rather lose the contest than win that way.


The last week or so of the contest, we were pretty much resigned to losing. Paul was acquiring votes at a pace we could not match. He finally passed us and just kept going. Todd emailed our family and had the idea that we should give money to Fran's kids for a college fund regardless of the outcome of the contest. People agreed and there we sat, waiting out the end of the contest, half-heartedly continuing to vote and asking for votes.

A Crazy Turn of Events

At the 11th hour - literally on the afternoon of the last day of voting - it came to our attention that Paul's video had been disqualified. (This was thanks to some of our family members also catching on to the voting scheme he was a part of and emailing the credit union with ample evidence.) We were overjoyed! Not only were we sitting pretty to win, but the cheater had been thrown out as he rightly should. Still, we tried not to get our hopes up until it was over. Midnight came and went and we went to bed feeling pretty darn good about winning that trip to Vegas.

Disqualified - What?!?

We woke up the next morning to find out that we had been disqualified. For what? For soliciting votes. WHAT? That made absolutely no sense: we had turned our competitor in for this very thing and had not done it ourselves until the credit union people said it was okay. We were furious - and confused - and our email rebuttal explaining our defense went ignored for an entire day. We were on pins and needles - Todd was in a funk like I'd never seen him, he barely ate that day.

By this time, we were resigned to losing, which sucks but is okay, but feeling completely unfairly accused of (essentially) cheating, which is most certainly NOT okay. Todd felt horrible, like he let down everyone he knows, because he knew all along that the vote solicitation was wrong but had gotten caught up in wanting to beat someone who was playing the game unfairly (after getting permission it was okay!)

Unsatisfactory Closure

All we wanted was an explanation, an apology. After multiple emails and a 20 minute phone conversation with the VP of Marketing at Coastal Federal Credit Union, I was able to be sort of okay with it. If the guy hadn't been so nice and understanding of my point of view, I would assuredly not be okay with it.

The basic deal is that they messed up badly! The person who told us it was okay to solicit votes had been wrong. The regular person overseeing the contest was out that week and someone filling in for them had responded quickly and incorrectly (brushed aside) our complaint about our opponent. At the end of the day, they had to disqualify both of us for having solicited votes - even though they said it was alright for us to do that. And unfortunately, they couldn't ever officially admit their errors because (I think) it would be grounds for a lawsuit.

It isn't fair. Not at all. But we aren't interested in doing anything more about it. We just want this to be over and behind us. So that's the story! Crazy, huh?

We want to sincerely thank everyone for their support throughout this. As a number of people have pointed out, Fran's kids still win (maybe even more!) because we have set up a place for people to donate to their college fund. If you can, please go and make a donation - small or large - it will mean so much to us and to all of our family.

In the end, it was all about Fran.

Photo credits from this blog, starting from the top: Sam video (me); Vegas Strip,; Hangover guys on roof,; SADD icon,; Piled in medical bills,; Vote for me penguin,; Clock,; Disqualified guy,; Cheated not defeated,; Todd and Fran (me).


  1. Dear Laura and Todd, You have done something wonderful for your dear family. And Todd, there is not one thing to feel bad about; you did what you were told was OK. We are all with you, admire the hell out of you, and love you for being a real man.

  2. Great explanation Laura. I know it was a horrible experience and having to re-live all of the details to blog about was also probably not a lot of fun! But thank you for all of the details. I willl pass them along as well as the link to donate for Hayden, Tess and Wyatt. Y
    ou and Todd have done a GREAT thing!!!!! xxxooo Susan

  3. Along with Laura & Todd, I am enraged at the way this "wonderful idea" born of unselfish good will concluded. Adding to the disappointment of being unfairly disqualified after accruing so many votes by their friends is this: What Laura did not write about is the emotional stress this situation caused her & of the toll that stress unleashes on even a healthy body! It is not surprising to me that her health suffered during & after this experience. xxoo Laura's mom