MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - It’s said lightning never strikes twice, but for Hedgesville teen Carrie Shade, her second Shorty Awards nomination for her anti-suicide awareness efforts is just as unexpected and exciting as her first.
Shade, a senior at Hedgesville High School, has been nominated for her second Shorty Award in activism for her Twitter account @AgainstSuicide. Shade started in May 2011, following the death of a childhood friend who committed suicide.
“It’s incredible because the other finalists I’ve been nominated with are really cool,” Shade said.
Shade created her Twitter account as a way to bring awareness to suicide and give inspiration to others going through a hard time, without any expectations of the account’s reception. However, the account has grown in popularity and purpose, and has about 190,000 followers from around the world.
“At first I was just tweeting those cute inspirational quotes that you see everywhere … and it just grew from there. It kind of evolved and became more like my own thoughts. I think it’s more relatable and people can see that and know that someone else feels like that,” Shade said.
In addition to providing inspiration, her account has also provided motivation.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people who have started anti-bullying things in their schools, or they’ve started Twitter accounts like mine. It’s really incredible. All you need is willpower. You don’t need to do anything spectacular. It’s something really simple, and you don’t need anything to do it other than the want to do it,” she said.
Since winning her Shorty Award, Shade said the exposure to her site and its message has grown tremendously.
“I don’t even think I know that many people. It’s kind of hard to comprehend how many people you can connect with through social media just by keeping at it,” she said.
Those connections are one of the reasons Shade was nominated and a finalist for this year’s Shorty Awards. She was one of four finalists chosen by the community.
“I think it would be great to win because not only did more people find out about my cause, but there’s videos from last year, my speech, and it was obvious I was not expecting (to win). I need to redeem myself because it was really bad,” she said.
Through fundraising efforts, Shade was able to attend last year’s Shorty Awards event at the New York Times Center in New York City, and she is hoping to do the same this year. Currently, she has raised more than $600 toward a goal of $2,000.
Any money raised that is not used during the trip will be used to fund free giveaways of T-shirts and items from Shade’s merchandise store, which features clothing and items with her Twitter handle, @AgainstSuicide, and other designs. Shade receives $4 for each purchase, which she uses to fund her giveaways.
The Shorty Awards will be held in New York City on April 7. Donations toward Shade’s trip can be made at www.gofundme.com/79zhms.