Rode Lewis, Kokernot 06 Ranch, Alpine Texas


Rode Lewis is a working cowboy.

He looks the part—sunburned, stoic, lean as a whip. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Rode lives with End Stage Renal Disease. Every other day he gets up at 2:20 AM and drives 180 miles for kidney dialysis. This keeps him alive.

Rode and his family wanted to build a home dialysis room. Home dialysis is healthier and would allow him to live longer – long enough to raise his daughters and see his grandchildren. But ranch hands don't make much money. 

So with zero budget and volunteer labor we put together a small, scrappy fundraising campaign featuring a short film from The Noble Lab. We created GoFundMe and social pages. GSD&M Creative Director Susan Rosenzweig, Social Media Director Kaitlyn Pleasants and Photo Assistant Cami Power executed the promotion campaign, all pro-bono.

The campaign launched December 13, 2016 at 7:00 AM with a Facebook post to 548 people. It went viral. By 5:18 that evening we met our $20,000 goal. Within a week our Facebook reach hit 38,288. We raised more than $80,000. Rode's family is building a house where he will begin daily home dialysis. It's a life changer.

Since then the story has been featured in Outside Online, Cavender's 'Beyond the Clothes' campaign, The Workbook, and Border States Electric, which donated materials and services. A year later, donations continue to roll in. Rode's family moved in over Thanksgiving, and he and his wife Taj are beginning home dialysis training.

By showing the West Texas ranching culture its own reflection in heroic terms, we touched a nerve. We affirmed their values of hard work, independence, and caring for their own. The big-hearted people of Texas responded, overwhelmingly, in the best barn-raising tradition.

Scott Van Osdol, Producer, Copywriter, Photographer

A jury composed of senior creatives from ad agencies TBWA\Chiat\Day, Anomaly, TDA Boulder, Carmichael Lynch, and Beats By Dre awarded a 2017 Silver Austin ADDY to the integrated campaign. The photography helped win a 2018 Gold ADDY for the #BeyondTheClothes campaign as we shared Rode's story with Cavender's 633,000 Facebook followers. Thanks to Tilted Chair Creative for including us in the campaign.