Boston Strong creators earn celebrity recognition for T-shirt campaign and attend Video Music Awards

A personal invitation to the MTV Video Music Awards seems out of reach for anyone without a platinum album. But Lane Brenner, a recent Emerson graduate, found herself on the guest list when she, along with co-founders of the Boston Strong campaign Nick Reynolds and  Chris Dobens, were surprised with tickets to the network’s famous award show for their charitable work. 

“I was happy, shocked, crying, babbling, and speechless,” said Brenner. “Obviously far too many emotions in a short amount of time.” 

“We were so excited to receive MTV’s invitation, and the show itself was everything we hoped it would be. I mean, *NSYNC was there,” said Reynolds, a senior visual and media arts major.

Dobens, Brenner, and Reynolds started Boston Strong after the Boston Marathon bombing to help raise money for the One Fund, which pays hospital bills and other expenses of those affected by the bombings that went off near the marathon finish line.

The group was scheduled to speak during a resident assistant training session Aug. 13 about the progress of their campaign. When they arrived at the Bill Bordy Theater Emerson alumna and MTVu personality Quinn Marcus appeared with a camera crew in tow.

 “Quinn came out of nowhere, celebrities were holding our shirts and saying our names, and then we got invited to the VMAs,” said Brenner. 

MTVu, a network owned by MTV, which focuses solely on college life, surprised groups of college students across the country with tickets to the VMAs for a segment on one of their program Random Acts of MTVu. The creators of Boston Strong were the first to be recognized. Their surprise involved a video of celebrities including Robin Thicke, Fall Out Boy, and Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars holding the now-iconic Boston Strong T-shirts and personally thanking Brenner, Dobens and Reynolds for all they have done to raise money for the One Fund.

Boston Strong has raised over $900,000, according to their Facebook page, and the founders have no plans to stop anytime soon.

“The future of the campaign is simple,” said Brenner. “If victims continue to need the money, we want to still sell shirts.”

“It’s been amazing and absolutely surreal to see businesses, celebrities, and everyday people helping out with Boston Strong in different ways,” said Reynolds. “Its still hard to believe how much work MTV put into getting celebrity endorsements for the T-shirts, and the VMAs were just the icing on the cake.”