Poppy’s Path: “Don’t build monuments. Start movements.”


by Noor Alnaqeeb (@nooralnaqeeb)

“Even the most famous people will most likely be forgotten in a century. Don’t build monuments, start movements to touch lives.”

– Zachary Levi

An imagined community by definition is a group of people who share the same ideals and interests but do not interact everyday on a face-to-face basis. The Nerd Machine family is an imagined community. But this society, abstract or not, is stronger than those with neighbors who awkwardly wave hello while fetching the morning paper or with unfamiliar co-workers who make polite conversation about the weather during lunch. The Nerd Machine might be spread out over great physical distances, but we are all psychologically sitting shoulder to shoulder while watching Chuck reruns and talking about the latest episode of Doctor Who. The Nerd Machine family has proven that they can get nerdy about TV shows, they can get nerdy about comic books and as of last Saturday, they can get nerdy about coming together to help someone in need.

On Saturday, October 27th, in a picture-perfect pub in the heart of London, Zachary Levi held a charity signing for a little girl named Poppy Rose. Zac, the architect of this social movement and soul of The Nerd Machine’s society, spent three hours with his fans. Together they raised £8,400, giving Poppy and everyone else eight thousand and four hundred reasons to smile.

I was lucky enough to be at the signing and to share the experience with five of my closest friends and family who just so happen to be diehard Chuck fans. Coincidence? I think not. Our mission was to represent all of our friends back home who couldn’t be there and to make a difference on their behalf. Eleven autographs, six pictures, five shout-outs and one phone call later and we had ourselves a national movement. Zac had done exactly what he had spoken of; he had started a movement to touch lives. There in the moment, looking around me and trying to take it all in, I switched to a slow motion play-by-play and did just that. I noticed a man chatting away in the corner with a cold beer in his hand. I noticed the hustle and bustle behind the kitchen doors. But most importantly, I noticed the mixture of determination and excitement on everyone’s faces. Granted, everyone’s going to get more than a little excited when meeting the coolest man on the planet, but what the freezing cold wind brought my way were the whispers of how the fans were exhilarated and encouraged to help someone in need.

Just as Chuck fans once shocked the world with Subway sandwiches in their hands and revolution on their minds, they were brought together once more. Fans now have the platform to remember their unified ambition: supporting those who deserve their devotion.

Upon saying goodbye, I asked Zac for a quote about the day’s events and without a moment’s hesitation he said, “If you have the ability to help someone, just do it.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason why Zachary Levi’s fans are so dedicated to him. His reputation precedes him. His talent is extraordinary. And his humility is honorable. But most importantly, he is by definition passionate, generous and genuine; a combination of traits that is exceptionally difficult to find in just one individual. Although he’d describe himself as “just a dude,” I highly doubt that I only speak for myself when I say, “dude” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Let me tell you a little more about the adorable nine-month-young girl we are all trying to help. Shortly after a prolonged period of labor, Poppy Rose developed pneumonia, which resulted in the lack of oxygen to her brain. She spent the first month of her life in the neonatal ward and her parents were told she might never begin to walk, talk or feed orally. But this beautiful baby girl was blessed with a breakthrough; she had her first meal of solid food. Poppy has sadly been diagnosed with cerebral palsy; with physiotherapy only once every two weeks Poppy could receive much more medical attention to achieve the best chance of a brighter future. The path forward lies in The Health in Motion clinic in Canada for a month of intensive physiotherapy and speech training. Poppy is the light of her parents’ lives and although the future is vague, one thing is crystal clear; we need to help.

So here I am, calling all members of our imagined community to come together for a cause that is much greater than all of us. I was shown that The Nerd Machine is proof that our society does have the ability to make a difference. I was also taught that Zachary Levi is proof that a man with a selfless notion can make worlds of a difference. In his words, “We’re not guaranteed even one more day in this life. Use them all to shine as bright, love as deep, and bring as much healing as you can.” So, if you can find a penny to spare, a dime to donate or even the time to spread the word, please help Poppy on her path and visit the donation website.

Here’s to starting a movement, one nerd at a time.


  1. LisaNovember 1st, 2012 at 11:02 am

    She is so beautiful. I’ll definitely help whenever I can! 🙂

    It takes a village…

  2. PeavesNovember 1st, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Thank you for this. It gives me chills, the power of the Nerd Army.

  3. MattieNovember 1st, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I was there that day, and I can honestly echo everything you’ve just said. It was a great time for a great cause, and Zac is just an outstanding individual who started all of this. This Nerdolution, this family, all coming together for greatness, whether it’s for Chuck or for the cutest little girl whose laughter lit up the back area of that pub, is absolutely brilliant, and I’m so proud to be a part of it. Great article.

  4. AbbyNovember 1st, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I’m new to this site so this is my first post on anything but I just have to agree with everything you wrote. What makes Zac so great is that he puts others before himself. He doesn’t do it in bitterness he does it with genuine joy. That is something not just rare with celebrities but rare in society. Glad to see there is good being done in the world.

  5. JeanneNovember 2nd, 2012 at 3:36 am

    I hope Poppy makes it all the way!!! it’s not fair that something like that happends to something so Precious. Zac is just one of many many who makes A difference. And he is NOT A dude I just wish I could tell him that. and that he has A HEART OF GOLD!!!!! YOU GO POPPY!!! and thank you soooo much for this Artical.

  6. Kevin RigdonNovember 2nd, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Excellent article, and very inspiring. Thank you for putting eloquent words to this cause.

  7. JeanneNovember 2nd, 2012 at 7:24 am

    I just want to say one more thing you guys at THE NERD MACHINE. all of you! Have A heart of GOLD!!! I don’t care what you say or think. you Have A Heart of GOLD!!! there I said it and Am Glad!!!

  8. Darrell PughNovember 4th, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Good form, son, good form!

  9. Maureen JacksonNovember 5th, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I am soooo proud of my nephew Zac, and sooo happy others are seeing the REAL Zac, the one his family knows and loves, and now you know some of the reasons we love him. This is not a one time show, people, this is his lifestyle. This IS Zac. love to you sweetie Aunt Maureen

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