I'm Thinking of You
Friday, 14 Mar 2008
When someone is critically ill, a common predicament for friends and family is finding the best way to show love and support.
It is this dilemma that inspired 31-year-old Dale Elliott to create imthinkingofyou.com.au, a website that utilises the Internet and mobile phone technology to unite people in a time of crisis.
Dale is painfully aware of the impact that a critical illness can have on loved ones, having survived a traumatic motorbike accident, which left him in a wheelchair. Five years ago, Dale took his cousin’s motorbike for a ride in Waikerie, South Australia. Barely travelling at 50 km/hr, he avoided a dog on a bend in the road and flipped off the bike.
“I’d fallen off motorbikes heaps of times, I grew up on motorbikes. But this time I just landed in a funny way, on my head and on my shoulder. My hips found the quickest way [to the ground] and snapped my spine sideways.”
A pilot and aircraft engineer at the time, his Army training in first aid immediately kicked in, and as his family rushed to the scene, Dale assessed the situation and realised he couldn’t feel his legs.
“I remember looking out the side of my helmet, because I didn’t want to move my neck. My wife was standing there, dad was kneeling alongside me, and he had a hold of my hand. And I said, dad, I’m ok, just take care of Erika, because she’s gonna pass out, she’ll go into shock.”
The effect of the accident was just as devastating on his family and friends as it was for Dale. Often, his friends wouldn’t know how to approach him, and he wouldn’t know how to interact with them. “There’s this whole ‘don’t know’ factor on both sides. So what do we do? The communication just stops.”
But, as he spent the next 69 days in hospital recovering and adjusting to his wheelchair, Dale’s positive attitude and cheekiness towards the nurses kept his spirits high.
“I was always a person that would go, everything happens for a reason, and we’re on a journey to somewhere that we need to be,” Dale says. “The more open you are to that, the better it’s going to be for you along the way. What I found was the awesome love and support that exists in the world, and amongst your family and friends that you would never know, there at that level, unless you had something like this happen to you. That’s why I built the website.”
imthinkingofyou is a website that uses email and SMS to keep members of a “care zone” updated of a person’s health status.
For example, if someone was diagnosed with cancer, a care zone could be created by a primary carer, who would post the latest news on the patient. Family and friends can join the care zone to leave messages, and the latest news (urgent or not) can be emailed or SMS’ed to members of that care zone by the primary carer.
The care zone, which families can set up on the website for free, also has a job and task manager, a care planner, a donation centre to raise funds for the family and, of course, room for supportive comments and feedback.
Ironically, the idea for imthinkingofyou was not triggered by Dale’s own accident, but after he attended the scene of a car crash near a 21st birthday party he was attending four years after his accident.
News of the accident darkened the mood of the party, as Dale and the other party-goers feared that the crash involved someone they knew. This wasn’t the case, and the accident victim was heli-lifted with minor injuries to hospital, yet Dale couldn’t stop thinking about the repercussions, if it had been a friend or family member.
“That night showed me how concerned people can get, and what they are prepared to do. The next day when I drove home it was playing on my mind… and then it hit me; and it was like a revelation.”
“I thought, that’s it, I’m going to make a website, an online portal of communication. I came up with the name on the way home; actually, I said to Erika, ‘what could we call it?’ I said, thinking of you, or I’m there for you, and my wife said “I’m thinking of you.” How many cards do you see with I’m thinking of you on them? I registered imthinkingofyou.com.au and .net that night. So when people say, was this a dream…nope it was a realisation that came into my head and straight away I knew that I had to do it.”
Not that Dale’s dream to build this website has been without struggle.
The technology for SMS alerts didn’t exist at the time, and when he approached several telephone and web design companies, he was told that it was impossible. But Dale was persistent, and eventually, pushed the companies to make it work.
Today there are over 120-care zones set up, while there are efforts taking place to expand into Mexico, China, India, UK, Europe, Asia and the US. Dale and his crew travel all over Australia to hospitals and not-for-profits, building ties with organisations such as the Cancer Council and the Salvation Army.
“The love that I felt from my family and friends when I had my accident [keeps me going]. I want everyone to be able to feel that love when they’re in the worse time of their life, that’s when you really need it. That’s what keeps me motivated, my mission to get that to as many people as I can. That’s what I feel is my purpose here.”
Go back to Entrepreneurial stories
Go back to Inspiring Stories
Pictured top left: Dale in amazing spirits Top right: Dale, flying a plane; Bottom left: imthinkingofyou success Bottom right: Performing his comedy routine
Enter our Members only section for exclusive access to special areas, as well as free downloads.
Not an Intrinsic member? Then become one now to receive inspirational newsletters and updates - it's quick and free!