When a pioneering dad blogger was diagnosed with terminal cancer, his friends and fellow dad bloggers wanted to raise money to send him and his family on one last dream vacation.
They set their goal at $5,000, thinking it might take a few months. They were wrong. In less than 24 hours, an online fundraiser for Oren Miller raised $13,000 from bloggers, family members and friends.
It’s a testament to the online community Miller has built; a Facebook group he created in 2012 grew from a handful of dad bloggers to more than 800 members from 15 countries.
“I’m grateful,” said Miller, 41, of Owings Mills, Maryland, who spoke to TODAY Parents by phone Friday on his way to an appointment for radiation treatment. “I’ve always said that the group is not me, it’s whatever people put into it. But I’m equally as happy to see that people appreciate what I did, I guess.”
Miller is a stay-at-home father of two children: Liam, 6, and Madeline, 4. He found out on May 30 that he has Stage 4 lung cancer, that it has spread to his liver and brain, and that he may not survive a year. He wrote a moving post about his prognosis and his wishes for his family on his blog, a Blogger and a Father. The outpouring of support from the dad blogging community has helped sustain the family in its time of crisis, said Miller’s wife, Beth Ilise Blauer.
She said she worried about her husband when they decided that she would go to work and he would stay at home with the kids, years ago.
“I was nervous because he was very private,” she said. “He barely left the house, was not social at all, had a very limited number of friends. I was concerned that the kids would be sheltered, might not be social. This is a confirmation that we made the right decision, and that Oren has grown. It’s so incredible that he not only has this amazing community, but that he had a hand in creating it.”
Fund organizer Brent Almond of Kensington, Maryland, and his fellow dad blogger group members hoped to raise enough money in three months to send Miller and his family on a dream vacation this summer. As donations poured in Friday, Almond, who publishes the blog Designer Daddy, reset the goal twice — first to $10,000, then to $20,000.
Miller’s Facebook group quickly became more than just a place for writing fathers to network and share their latest creative endeavors – especially for Miller, whose quiet and unpretentious nature proved to be the perfect catalyst for a large, engaged community of creative and involved fathers from many walks of life and time zones.
As the fundraising total climbed Friday, ideas for what to do with the money expanded beyond the vacation.
“Once it hit over $5,000, I talked to Beth and one of her friends,” said Almond. “It could be for anything they need, whether for a trust fund for the kids, medical bills, whatever they needed. Let’s just see how much we could do. It’s still going nuts.”
Carter Gaddis is a writer and journalist, whose work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Parenting Magazine, and other online publications. Full disclosure: He is a member of the Dad Bloggers Facebook group. He lives with his wife and two sons near Tampa, Florida, and writes about fatherhood at DadScribe.com. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.