When Renee Cotnoir lost her father to pancreatic cancer, she and her husband, Chris, honored his legacy of service by fundraising for St. Jude. They began streaming from their basement and kitchen, raising nearly $10,000 last year — $3,600 of which they raised during a 30-hour marathon stream.
As folks stayed home distancing from loved ones, this Rhode Island couple, who go by streamer names Rusty Rhymez and Lady Naginata, virtually opened themselves up to new friends and silly conversations. A handful of followers at a time joined them as they talked about interesting news tidbits like what would happen if the Earth’s North and South poles flipped and unusual laws like the one in Texas that doesn’t allow shooting a buffalo out of the second floor of a hotel.
A month later, they began to stream a cooking show out of their kitchen twice a week, too. People tuned in to watch them make fresh ravioli from scratch on their kitchen island and roll out empanadas and season couscous. Chris and Renee needled each other lovingly, made a mess of their kitchen and hilariously spooked their dogs with the vacuum trying to clean up the mess. It was all good fun and their followers, numbering over 1,000 this fall, were hooked.
Early this year, they translated that homegrown popularity into purpose. St. Jude emerged as a frequent and popular beneficiary. Chris even developed a rhyme he often used during his fundraising streams: “Life is tough and is not fair, kids are innocent and that is clear. So if you have time or change to spare, let's show these kids how much we care."
“Look, it’s just me and my wife, we’re not famous or special, we just wanted to give our time and effort for something we care about, St. Jude, and that is making a difference,” Chris said.