Horizon joins with internet sensation to bring lyrical awareness to rare diseases

It’s nothing new to say that pets bring comfort. A new collaboration between Horizon Therapeutics’ #RAREis Playlist partnership with the Sing Me A Story Foundation and internet sensation/all-around celebrity Doug the Pug is bringing not only comfort but awareness to a little girl with Ewing sarcoma as well as children with other rare diseases.

The project is a conglomeration of multiple players and efforts. There’s Horizon’s #RAREis, founded back in 2017, and designed to give people living with rare conditions a platform to tell their stories. Then out of that comes the #RAREis Playlist partnership with the Sing Me A Story Foundation, which works with musicians to create songs based on stories written by children who suffer from rare diseases.

The Doug the Pug Foundation, the charitable arm (paw?) of social media star Doug the Pug, then joined in with Doug’s humans to create the song, “Doug The Pug–When You’ve Got A Friend By Your Side” from the story “Quest for the Golden Pearl” written by Leanor, 8, who has Ewing sarcoma, and her sister Dot,  11.

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This all leads to the social media challenge—which kicked off on National Love Your Pet Day Feb. 20 and runs until Rare Disease Day Feb. 28—promoted across everyone's socials. The challenge, which is found on Doug’s Instagram page, asks people donate to download the song and then make their own Instagram reel with their furry friends and tag three friends to help raise awareness about rare diseases.

While Ewing sarcoma is a cancer, and cancers aren’t usually classified as a rare disease, cancer in children is rare as is Ewing sarcoma, so the project brings them all together.

“[It’s about] having that conversation of how rare diseases and childhood cancer connects is really important because they often are talked about like two completely separate things,” said Michelle Rivas, Horizon’s senior manager of product communications.

For those not in the know, Doug the Pug is a media darling with millions of Instagram followers; he’s been in Super Bowl ads, earned multiple awards and is in the Oscar-nominated movie, "The Mitchells vs. the Machines." He and his humans have also set up a charity, The Doug the Pug Foundation, which aims to "bring joy and needed support outside of treatment to children and their families battling cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.”

“We have never worked with a social media celebrity this before, especially a dog influencer. This is the first for Horizon,” Rivas said.

While Horizon has a big stake in the rare diseases field, Ewing sarcoma is not one of them. Rivas stresses that’s not what it’s about.

“Our #RAREis disease program is rare disease agnostic … we support outside of the rare disease community, because it's the right thing to do. Also because these stories still need to be told outside of any sort of disease awareness program focused on one particular product. This is still really important to Horizon to be able to share these stories outside of any medications that we have.”