Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Our Essay Contest Taught Us About One Direction's Many Devoted Fans

WEST HARTFORD, Conn., U.S.A. – Never underestimate the passion of a One Direction fan, we learned, when we established an essay contest with a prize of two tickets to the band’s sold out show at Mohegan Sun.
The Mohegan Tribe generously gave YJI tickets in the luxury skybox – complete with a fancy dinner reception for the November 30 sold out show – and we decided it would be fun to give a couple away to a really deserving fan.
(We still have some tickets to sell, so call us at (860) 655-8188 or email to find out more about that.)
But back to the 1D fans and the wonderful essays they wrote in hopes of winning tickets.
We learned that there are a LOT of deserving fans. We received entries from almost 400 people from all around the United States as well as Canada and Argentina.
We read them all and put careful thought into which one should win.
Many wrote that their birthdays were on the day of the concert, or near to it, and that winning would be a perfect way to celebrate. We wish we could send you all tickets inside a birthday card!
Quite a few people wrote to ask for the tickets not for themselves, but for their sister, cousin, or friend. Some of those came from sisters, but a few good-hearted brothers out there were trying to win for their sisters, which we found really terrific. Those people, though, have the best prize of all: a loving brother, sister, cousin or friend who is looking out for them. Still, we wish we could send tickets to all of them, too.

Simone Tucker, 17, 
of Hartford, Connecticut,
won the essay contest
and the two tickets to
the One Direction concert.
Lots of writers told us how 1D had changed their lives, for the better. They told painful stories of hurting themselves or feeling bad about themselves until they found happiness in the music of One Direction. Knowing they had possibly saved lives made us have a lot more appreciation for the band.
We’re glad music brought salvation to all of those fans who had been hurting, and we wish we could have sent tickets to each of them so they could experience the band in concert.
Lots and lots of essay writers proclaimed themselves the band’s number one fan and a few said they had every expectation of one day marrying a band member. All we can say is that the band is very lucky to have such a passionate group of fans.
Quite a few said they couldn’t afford to buy tickets and feared they’d never have the chance again.
We’d have loved to been able to give all those writers some tickets, too.
But we could only give away one pair of tickets, and it was really hard to choose who would get them.
We looked for a well-written piece of prose that followed the rules of the contest, which asked for 250 words or less and specified that the writer had to be aged 21 or under.
While most entries came from Connecticut and neighboring states of New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we also got entries from Texas, Florida, California, Oregon, Washington, Tennessee, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa and South Dakota.
The fans have been vocal in their comments about the contest. There was quite a bit of interest in the announcement of the winner, and several were disappointed that we delayed that for a day. Sorry, but we couldn’t help that.
Many, we were happy to see, celebrated the contest’s winner, congratulating her and wishing her a great time.
Others have been critical of the winning essay – even before it was posted. That was disappointing.
Simone Tucker, the 17-year-old music student who won the contest, is a deserving winner. Her essay was well written and while it noted that she and others couldn’t afford to buy tickets, it wasn’t seeking pity. Rather, her piece was filled with gratitude for just the chance to try to win. Read it here and you will see for yourself.

Contest winner Simone Tucker with Youth Journalism International
 co-founders Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins
You can see the local NBC Connecticut television station’s story about Simone here.
We liked Simone’s spirit, that “attitude of gratitude,” especially at this time of year, when so many Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, and wanted to reward her with the tickets.
After the concert, she promises to reward all of you with her review of the show, which will be published on this blog. We’re confident she can convey the excitement of the night.
We’re grateful to everyone who took the time to enter the contest and hope you’ll continue to check in with YJI and find even more things to spark your interest.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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