A Call To Action: Let Guinness World Records Know We Expect Them To Keep Their Word & Honor the Vogel Boys’ Record
Imagine what it would be like to enter university as a freshman, full of hope, your sights set on your long term goal: Graduation and a degree in “doing hard things.” You’ve researched your field of study, you know what it’s going to take, and you know it’s not going to be easy. But, you know that in the end it will be worth the sacrifice and the uphill climb.
You dive in with enthusiasm and you work hard. You document your progress. You follow the prescribed course of study. You play by the rules that the controlling institution (your university) sets. You do everything “right,” and exceed every measurement, and everyone knows it.
Graduation day arrives!
You finish strong! Your friends, your family and all of those you’ve met along the way jump up and down and cheer as you walk across that stage. There’s not a dry eye in the place, you’ve done something amazing, something bigger than you thought possible, what’s more, you’re the first person in your family to do it.
But wait… where’s your diploma?
The administration regrets to inform you that they won’t be issuing your diploma.
It’s not that you didn’t do the work, or didn’t pass the tests, or didn’t follow the rules. It’s not that you didn’t achieve greatness, they agree that you deserve it and you did everything they asked.
No, it’s just that somewhere in your third year of study they changed the rules, decided that because you were under eighteen they couldn’t reward your hard work, couldn’t acknowledge your accomplishment, and wouldn’t honor their end of the deal, even though you put in the time and the money and the work and honored your end.
Sure, you still did the work, you own the information and the accomplishment; nothing can change that. The diploma is just a piece of paper, but it matters to you, doesn’t it? It’s that piece of paper that represents your accomplishment to the rest of the world. Of course it matters.
Can you imagine the disappointment? Yours personally? That of your family and friends? That of everyone who supported you?
David & Daryl Vogel can.
These boys are friends of ours. They’re 13 years old and they just spent three years, a quarter (more or less) of their young lives, cycling from Alaska to Argentina. They were chasing a Guinness World Record for “Youngest people to cycle the Americas.”
They spent a year planning it, and three years pounding the pedals, up and down every hill. They followed their pre-approved route, logged their progress daily, dotted every i, crossed every t. They did it.
Their accomplishment is not disputed.
The Guinness people recognize that they did it, did it according to the rules, and met the prerequisite qualifications for the record. But somewhere along the way, they decided, without telling the Vogel boys, to discontinue the category of “youngest” to accomplish something.
Why? Because some parents are crazy enough to let pre-teens take off sailing around the world alone, or tackle some other similarly life threatening undertaking.
It’s probably a good choice, to remove that category, but is it fair to pull the rug out from under persons who are already underway in their own record attempts? Especially when the folks at Guinness have pre-approved the route and the attempt? Especially when, in this case, the minors in question were accompanied by and protected by their parents for every single inch of the trip? No, it’s not.
This post is part of a campaign to put pressure on the folks at GWR to honor their half of the bargain, to present the certificates to the Vogel boys, and to award them the World Record they were promised.
If we, as adults, or institutions made of adults, make a habit of changing the rules mid-stream we prove ourselves liars to the next generation.
If adults are liars and the rules are subject to change without notice, what incentive do young people have to play by the rules, rise above the challenges and do hard things?
- I have had the privilege of sitting around campfires with the Vogels, and watching their boys sword fight with mine.
- I have the benefit of knowing these kids first hand and, more importantly, knowing their parents first hand.
- I know that this record chase was done fairly, safely, faithfully and was enthusiastically the dream and the effort of the boys themselves.
Won’t you join me in calling on GWR to play by their own rules and honor the accomplishment of these inspiring young men?
Visit their website and encourage the boys as they challenge their denial
Here’s what Nancy (the boys’ Mom) asks that we do:
- Blog about it – anybody who has a blog or knows anybody who has a blog, please do a quick write-up about this issue and it’s unfairness. I think we should be grandfathered in and then they should close the category. We understand the record the boys broke no longer exists; we would be happy with some sort of official recognition from Guinness – maybe a certificate stating that they met all the requirements as laid out in the guidelines they gave us? I would be happy to talk with bloggers, but most likely will not consent to interviews with the boys.
- Social media is powerful. When I got a letter from the director of Guinness World Records this morning he mentioned all the heat on Twitter, so I know it’s working. They have a facebook page (search Guinness World Records) and their Twitter account is @GWRnews Flood them with messages about this.
- Contact the press – if you have a good, trustworthy source. This is one of those stories that could easily go haywire and I don’t want it twisted every which way. If you know someone in radio/TV/newspaper/magazine media, please contact them. But – don’t just throw it out there for all the kooks to pick up.