So homeless advocate Mark Horvath won the SXSW Pepsi Challenge. I stayed up until midnight on Monday night sending out tweets, bugging people to tweet and watching the parade of #RefreshGary hashtags come in. We went to sleep pretty sure we’d done it, and Tuesday at noon Pepsi confirmed it and announced InvisiblePeople.tv the winner of the $50,000.
I’m so happy for Mark. I’m shocked at what the guy has been able to accomplish with such minimal support. Most of us need a paycheck to do good work, either being employed by a nonprofit or having a real job so we can do volunteer work on the side. But Mark doesn’t have either (OK, he has the case manager job, but it barely covers his rent). He’s got nothing in his fridge and yet he still champions the cause of the homeless. He’s an incredible inspiration.
That’s why I didn’t mind spamming my friends. Heck, I can hardly call it spamming them when I’m telling them why Mark is so deserving of this grant. I don’t like these spammy tell all your friends contests. I don’t like that they pit good ideas against each other. I don’t like that somebody wins and somebody loses. I hope folks learn from that and do something different next time. But it was Mark Horvath and he needed the help. He didn’t ask for it, but this was offered to him I’ll be damned if I was going to standby and watch him miss an easy opportunity for funding.
$50,000 is huge, but it’s also not. It’s not an unreasonable salary for a person of Mark’s position in a nonprofit (that position being everything from CEO to camera guy to janitor). He could give himself an actual salary and restock the fridge and he’d be just fine in my book. But knowing Mark, he’s not going to be sitting back with this money. That’s part of why my little InvisiblePeople.tv book project is so important to me. As huge as this grant is, Mark needs the on-going support.
Anyway, we won. Geeks doing good. Awesome. Thank you Pepsi. Thank you Gary Vaynerchuk. Thank you everybody who tweeted. And thank you, Mark. This was the least we could do.
The video announcement and Mark’s “acceptance speech”:
Other cool folks blogging about the victory: