Shane Cunningham, one of the hosts of the Mike On Much podcast is behind a new viral Internet challenge and he wants you to support it. The #ISangForLupusChallenge encourages those nominated to record themselves singing earnestly and unironically, any song of their choosing, upload it to social media with the #ISangForLupus. Then, the nominee is to challenge three friends giving them 72 hours to respond all with the intent to raise money and awareness for Lupus.

For those who are unaware, Lupus, as Cunningham said on The Social, has been called “the disease of a thousand faces”. The autoimmune disease causes inflammation in one or more parts of the body and can affect skin, muscles, joints, blood, lungs, heart, kidneys and the brain. Lupus is difficult to diagnose because symptoms can vary from person to person.

Cunningham, who has been dubbed a “pop culture aficionado” (but admitted that the name is more of a joke than an actual title) came up with the #ISangForLupusChallenge because the disease hits close to home. Ninety percent of those suffering with Lupus are women. Cunningham’s wife has it, her grandmother had it and because there is a genetic component, there is a chance that his unborn daughter will have it. “[Wh]en I found out that my wife was pregnant with a girl, I wanted to do something to raise funds and hopefully find a cure,” he told The Muse via email.

Putting his knowledge of pop culture to use, Cunningham researched effective viral marketing campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which as Forbes pointed out, ended up raising over 100 million dollars in a single month in 2014; 40 times more than the ALS Association made in previous year. “All I needed was something for people to do within that template.  One day I was tidying up around the house, heard my wife singing (terribly) in the shower and I thought it would be compelling to challenge people who don’t normally sing to do it on camera,” he said.

Since its inception, the challenge has been accepted by Canadian singer Lights, Commander Chris Hadfield, and even Kelly Clarkson. Cunningham admits that response was “great” in the first month after partnering with Lupus Canada, but “then the challenge lost steam and went completely dead over the holidays.”

 After contacting the Lupus Foundation of America, and promoting the challenge on television shows like The Social, things started to pick up again. “I think the key was that we added a 72 hour time limit rule for the nominations,” Cunningham admitted.

To date, Cunningham said that the campaign has raised almost 10 thousand dollars towards Lupus research, (which has nearly doubled since appearing on The Social). When all is sang and done, Cunningham’s goal is to raise 200 million.

Since he is a “pop culture aficionado”, we asked Cunningham which celebrity or public figure he would love to see take the #ISangForLupusChallenge. “I would love if Selena Gomez would take part, given that she is a lupus sufferer [and] that her incredible popularity would instantly send this challenge into another stratosphere,” he answered. Cunningham also noted that he would like to see his personal idol, writer, and comedian Nathan Fielder take part because “he is a marketing genius.”

Another celebrity that Cunningham may want to nominate is Lady Gaga, who announced via Instagram, that she is releasing a new version of her song “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?)”. The singer will also be donating to the Lupus Research Alliance in honor of her aunt Joanne Stefani Germanotta who suffered from Lupus and passed away at the age of nineteen due to complications from the disease.

Before concluding the interview, Cunningham officially nominated every reader of The Muse to participate in the #ISangForLupusChallenge. Remember, you have 72 hours.

By: Kristopher Smith