The story of a Vermilion tourist has traveled the globe recently, via the internet.
Stephen Mills reached out to the Vermilion Standard after he and his family had an eventful visit to the Vermilion Heritage Museum, but he said he never dreamed his story would go viral.
“I didn’t even know if you were going to publish it. I thought well, it’s kind of cool. Maybe they’d like to have that…it wasn’t like ‘oh my gosh we’ve got to send this’,” said Mills.
“I thought maybe we’d get a little spot in the paper—like there’d be some mention of it, and I can put it in a scrapbook for the kids—that was honestly what we thought. I was like, how cool would that be? If I got this little picture and I could show them—like you guys were here, right. And then you published it, then it went here (Fort McMurray), then it started getting busier,” he recalled.
The past few weeks have been very busy for Mills. He estimates that he has received 30 interview requests between June 3 and June 14, from news outlets all over the world.
“It got to BBC, and then that’s kind of when it started to take off… and I worked the whole time. So I’ve got this interview…they wanted me to go live on TV, and here I am at work. So I got permission to use an office on my coffee break to do that. And then it got so crazy—‘cause I work in an industry right–that I started wearing a dress shirt to work because I didn’t know what to expect that day,” said Mills.
That went on for over a week, and he said he didn’t turn any of the requests down.
“I did a radio show in Pittsburgh, and London—I did that one in the night time, it was like 10:30 at night, but for the one in Newfoundland I had to be up for 4 o’clock in the morning to do their morning show…with the three and a half hour time difference,” Mills said.
The story was published in People Magazine, The Guardian, and the Washington Post among others, and it was also translated into Spanish and Japanese.
“It’s just been pretty incredible, because every day now I get random people from all over the world—Africa, China, Japan—messaging me on Facebook. Even today I’m getting them. I had somebody from India message me last night on Twitter talking about how awesome it was,” said Mills on June 14.
“Part of what I learned is just how our world is so interconnected with social media, like I don’t think I ever really grasped it. I think that kind of headline catches your attention…and then everybody’s disappointed when they find out that there’s nothing there, but still it was locked right.”
One of the videos of the story that CNN published was viewed over 950,000 times.
When the story blew up Mills contacted a couple of the volunteers on the museum board, and found out that the museum—which is fully privately funded, could use a few upgrades and would like to make the basement (where the safe is) fully accessible to all.
Mills then set up a Go Fund Me page called ‘Safe Cracked Vermilion Museum Fairytale Ending’ to try and help out.
“This is such a good news story…I thought there’s got to be more good to it than just a good news story,” said Mills.
“So that’s what I’m trying to do now.”
Also, he and his family will be returning to Vermilion to help out with a fundraiser for the Vermilion Heritage Museum on July 21.