June 02, 2015 - 4:29 PM
"IT'S GOING TO BE MY FIRST FATHER'S DAY IN 46 YEARS WHERE I ACTUALLY KNOW WHO MY FATHER IS."
KELOWNA – A local expert in social media found out the power of Facebook last weekend when she used it to find and meet her father for the first time in 46 years.
And even though he lives on the other side of the world and has since changed his name, it took just 72 hours. Melonie Dodaro, 46, is an expert in LinkedIn and an online marketing consultant with her own company Top Dog Social Media.
Last weekend she decided to make a short video asking her Facebook friends to help her find her father she’s never met. Based on what her mother told her, she knew he was originally from Holland and she knew his name – Cees de Jong. But even that wasn’t much help.
“He’s got the most common Dutch first name and the most common Dutch last name,” she says. “It’s like John Smith in North America.”
She also couldn’t be sure he still lived in Holland but felt it was the best place to start. Her friends started sharing her video and tagging their Dutch friends and the post took off from there. The video has since been viewed more than 27,000 times.
“The video went absolutely viral,” she says. “It was shared almost 700 times from my own Facebook page.”
Within 48 hours a reporter for a Dutch newspaper contacted her and interviewed her for a story. After the story ran, Dodaro awoke to an influx of Facebook messages from people offering tips as well as one from someone who thought they might be her cousin.
The editor of the newspaper also called her a short while later and said he had an autobiography of de Jong on his desk. He offered her his phone number but Dodaro says she was too nervous to call so he offered to make first contact.
“Apparently he was a famous musician in the 70s and 80s and he’s been in eight movies,” she says. “He called back a short while later and said my father would be calling me in ten minutes.”
That was 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, almost exactly 72 hours after she posted the video.
“When the phone rang he said ‘hello Melonie, this is Colin, your daddy,” she says. “Apparently he looked for me a couple times but because my mom got married and changed her name he couldn’t find me.”
Her father, who goes by the name Colin Young, now lives in Thailand so the newly reunited pair only spoke for ten minutes but Dodaro says they plan to do a video call Wednesday morning.
Dodaro has since found out her father began his music career in Belgium in 1984 and was lead singer for ‘The Kids’ and ‘The Smashers’. He also worked as a disc jockey, tennis coach and model and even helped rescue a woman and her baby from a collapsed house after an earthquake in Chile. Now he works as an Elvis impersonator in Thailand.
“I’m still vibrating,” she says. “I’ve been sweating, I’ve been shaking, and I’ve been jumping up and down screaming. I haven’t even cried yet because it’s just been excitement. I just haven’t had any time to process it yet. He said he can’t wait to meet me and he’s going to make that happen. It’s going to be my first father’s day in 46 years where I actually know who my father is and can talk to him and say happy father’s day.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015