Choose Their Own Adventure

Back in August, I set my wok aflame in celebration of an amazing campaign that raised $200,000 for Shot at Life. One thing I dread doing (aside from growing my eyebrows back) is explaining what Shot at Life does. Mostly because no description does it justice. Shot at Life delivers life-saving vaccines to children in 3rd world countries. See? Doesn't sound all that exciting. Fortunately, cavemen invented storytelling. And thanks to this ancient art, Shot at Life has given my previous description, well, life. Throughout the past 28 days, bloggers have been telling the tale of this organization via real stories of people who have made an impact in, or been impacted by the efforts that Shot at Life has made in helping to give children a shot at ____. Space intentionally left blank because when you give kids a chance, they will do anything and everything.

This month, we've seen tales of survivors giving back, stories of heroes in the fight, and even first-hand accounts from my fellow Shot at Life blogger ambassadors who were fortunate enough to witness progress from the front lines.

And now it's my turn. When I was given my story to highlight, I was expecting something totally different. Perhaps a Shot at Life volunteer who had to fend off warlords with nothing but a bo staff and illegal ninja moves. Maybe it was a mom who walked for two days with a 2 year old on her back and 7 year old in tow to get to a vaccination clinic in Uganda, who had to tape broken bottles on her fists to fight off packs of grey wolves in the mountains of Alaska (hey, this is my imagination. If you don't like it, get out of my head). No, my story wasn't any of that. My story was simply a few sentences long.

My story was about this little dude:

And his older brother:

Credit for both photos: Christine McNab/ Measles and Rubella Initiative website

See how older brother is doing that thing with his arm over his head? That's because he doesn't know how old he is. The health worker made him do this because if you can touch your ear like that, you are most likely older than 5. Because he and his little brother were under 5, they both got shots for measles and polio. After that, they were given purple marks on their thumbs to show that they had been vaccinated. Big brother and little brother then went home by themselves, the same way they showed up. 

The end. 

Wait, wait, wait!! This is the final story of this amazing 28-day series? Two kids show up at a clinic, get shots and then go home? It can't simply end this way. We don't even know their names! This is worse than the series finale of the Sopranos. Ok, Shot at Life, you gave me this anchor position for a reason. And that reason is you knew I would pull out all the stops to make the end of this series epic. And that I shall do. 

First, we're going to give these kids names: Ronnie and Mike.

Now, we're going to make this interactive. You, dear reader, will now have to choose. After Ronnie and Mike leave the clinic, do they head:

A) North

B) East

C) West

If you picked North, read paragraph A below. If you picked East, skip to the paragraph labeled B. If you picked West, skip to paragraph C.

Paragraph A

Ronnie is pretty proud of the fact that he didn't even flinch when they gave him that shot. Mike sees the pride in his little brother and smiles. Just then, a meteor-like object whizzes by in the sky in front of them and lands with a crash, rattling the sun-baked dirt below their feet. The boys run toward the crash site in time to see a dozen aliens emerge from a saucer-like object. They're all wielding hypodermic needles and snarl threateningly at the boys as they approach. But Ronnie does not fear their weapons. In fact, he rolls up his sleeve like a big boy. The aliens are so amazed by Ronnie's courage that they crown him and Mike their new leaders. The boys get into the saucer and make their way to their new domain, where they now preside as supreme rulers. Their YouTube channel "Ronnie and Mike: Space Dictators" has 17 million subscribers, and the ad revenue from that alone supports the planet's universal healthcare plan, which includes vaccinations against internet trolls. 

Paragraph B

On their way home, Mike notices a swirling vortex underneath a boulder along the path. Curious, he picks up a pebble and throws it in. Immediately, he hears a whinnying noise coming from inside the vortex. Ronnie utters "horsey!" and jumps into it. Not wanting to get in trouble at home over losing his brother to a vortex, Mike jumps in after him. After several moments of sliding along what can only be described as a rainbow slip n slide, both land with a thud. As the two brothers look up, they notice that they are surrounded by a gentle herd of unicorns, one of which tells them to get on his back (via telepathy of course). The unicorn flies them back through the vortex and to their house. The boys love this new pet that has followed them home, so they feed it some hay. Hay is like the best thing this unicorn has ever tasted (he is totally sick of the bacon that grows on all the trees in his home world), so he calls all his friends up. Now unicorns run wild in the streets of Nigeria. Snopes confirms all this a day later, so for once the email your great aunt Edna forwarded to the whole family is legit.

Paragraph C

The boys wander through the desert and come upon a great deal for a droid. When they get him home to clean, he plays a hologram who keeps asking someone named Obi Wan for help. They wonder if it's old Ben. After a series of incidents that lead them to Ben, who just so happens to be Obi Wan, they enlist the help of a real scoundrel of a smuggler to get them all to a peaceful planet called Alderaan. Little do they know, a dictator has already blown it up. They decide they really dislike this guy and join an opposition party. This opposition party, they discover, isn't the type that enjoys debates. In fact, they too love to blow things up. Especially the thing that the dictator lives in. And that thing is no moon! So they learn how to fly these aircraft with wings shaped like an X, and they launch an attack on that non-moon planet destroyer thing. Some aircraft shaped like bow ties attack them, but in the end they destroy that thing. It's really kind of sad, though, because they will later discover that the dictator is really their dad, which means they totally could have inherited that non-moon thing, given it a more upbeat name than the Death Star, and thrown some wild parties in there. Instead, they get some medals.

You might at this point be asking "hey, um, Jim... this is awfully random. What is the point of all this?" 

I'm glad I pretended that you asked. The answer is this: there is no limit to what kids can do. You just need to give them a shot.

The impact of vaccines on the lives of children around the world is incredible. Now, you can help sustain the impact by sending an email to your member of congress. Welcome your members to the 113th Congress and ask them to make sure that global health and vaccines are a priority in the new Congress. Take action and make an impact!

This story comes from the Measles and Rubella Initiative and is part of Shot@Life’s ’28 Days of Impact’ Campaign. A follow up to Blogust to raise awareness for global vaccines and the work being done by Shot@Life and their partners to help give children around the world a shot at a healthy life. Go to to learn more.