Sick boy's request sounds similar to Shergold hoax

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com When Michelle Foster heard about Noah Biorkman's wish for Christmas cards, she immediately thought about a movie about a British lad named Craig Shergold. Biorkman is a 5-year-old from Michigan who has neuroblastoma which has proved unresponsive to numerous treatments. His family is celebrating Christmas early because of his prognosis.
Foster, who lives near Newnan, heard about the boy's wish and thought of the earlier story. "There is a movie out just like this, called 'The Miracle of the Cards.' I've got it on my list of movies I want to see," she said. "The Miracle of the Cards" is a 2001 television movie that tells a true story. Craig Shergold's tale is a unique one because it began as a true story but has grown into a massive hoax. Shergold, 30, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1989. Surgery successfully removed the tumor in 1991. During his illness, his wish was to get into "The Guinness Book of World Records" as the person who had received the most greeting cards. His wish came true. By 1990, he had received 16 million cards -- a number which more than doubled by the next year. Shergold got well, but the story about the cards continues to circulate -- and to change. Sometimes his name became Craig Shelford, Craig Shelton or Craig Sheppard. Sometimes another child's name was used. Another permutation of the myth, which has circulated in Coweta County several times over the years, is that the boy wants business cards. The use of fax machines and now e-mail has accelerated the passage of the urban legend from one person to another. Children's Wish Foundation, an Atlanta organization, reportedly moved because of the huge volume of mail sent to Shergold at their address. Make-A-Wish Foundation of America in Phoenix, Ariz. has a page on its Web site about the "chain letter" requests, in which the group does not participate. In addition to Shergold, names sometimes associated with such requests are Amirtha, Jessie Anderson, Shane Bernier, Matt Dawson, Chad Briody, Amy Bruce, Jeff DeLeon, Rhyan Desquetado, Anthony Hebrank, LaNisha Jackson, Nikisha Johnson, Bryan Warner and Kayla Wightman. "The time and expense required to respond to these inquiries distracts the foundation from its efforts on behalf of children with life-threatening medical conditions, and more importantly, can divulge information that is potentially harmful to a child and his or her family," according to the Make-A-Wish Web site. "The Miracle of the Cards" dramatized the true part of Shergold's story. Kirk Cameron, Catherine Oxenberg, Jennifer Carmichael and Thomas Sangster starred in the movie, which won the 2002 Epiphany Prize.

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