Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? Received a friend request on Facebook out of the blue? Or a text message to the wrong phone number? It’s more common than we think. But Emily Perkins, a Physics teacher from Leicester, takes mistaken identity one step further.
Picture the scene. It’s Christmas Day 2020. And Emily is thrilled to see that hints to her husband for an exercise bike have worked! Like all of us, Emily wanted to take the New Year as an opportunity to get a little fitter. So, what challenge did she set herself? A few miles every other day? A 30 minute session here and there? Think again. Emily’s taking on the Tour de France! Or as she likes to call it, the Tour de Living Room.
With 3500km to cycle in 365 days, Emily needed motivation.
“I have to do around 9km a day! I’d actually just finished fundraising for a friend of mine and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do another fundraiser to keep on track’. I thought if I earned 10p every km I’d get to £350.”
Emily decided to fundraise for The Laura Centre, having been inspired by one of her students.
In 2015, Kian Gill, a 15 year old student from Lutterworth College, was tragically killed in a car accident on his last day of Year 11.
“It was a really horrendous time. I remember the kids had their exams on the Monday, and their best friend had died days before. It was a really tragic accident.”
The Laura Centre supported Kian’s family after his death, like many other families across Leicester who have sadly been bereaved.
So in memory of Kian, off Emily set on her Tour de Living Room, friends and family behind her in support. But what happened next, no one could have predicted.
Back in November, Emily received a few strange tweets. Her followers were growing, and her mentions were building up. She noticed that the owner of ‘Cloud 9’, an American professional esports organisation, had followed her. And in December, C9Perkz, a League of Legends player for Cloud 9, had followed her too.
“I didn’t quite realise what had happened until I put two and two together. Cloud 9 were due to play a game and I was mistaken for C9Perkz, seeing as our Twitter handles were so similar. An esports journalist replied to the tweet, and it picked up some attention.”
There’s nothing more annoying than having your phone ping every five minutes. And Emily was about to find this out for herself. She’d received tweets left, right and centre before enough was enough.
“I just tweeted ‘Please can you stop tagging me in this. I don’t know who you are or what you’re on about’.”
Unfortunately for Emily, the tweets didn’t end there. Before she knew it, she was the star of the League of Legends gaming community, second only to her guinea pigs.
To save confusion, a Cloud 9 follower asked Emily to change her username. Did Emily oblige? She did one better.
“Instead of changing my name, I spammed my new followers with pictures of guinea pigs and educational news!”
Because, what else would you do with a new found platform!?
Emily’s profile drew the attention of a League of Legends stream. And her guinea pigs were the main stars! But it wasn’t just because of their undeniable cuteness.
“It turned out that one of the other players on C9Perkz’s team was called Fudge, as is one of my guinea pigs! People couldn’t believe that there was a Fudge and Perkz in some other capacity.”
The streamers took an interest in Emily’s profile and found her fundraiser. Inspired by her story, they donated $500 each. And it took off from there; what began as a £350 fundraiser soon exceeded every one of Emily’s expectations. As of February 2021, Emily has fundraised almost £4,000 for The Laura Centre.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the League of Legends community. They’ve been so welcoming and so supportive. They’ve sponsored me in memory of a young man who I cared an awful lot about. They’ve reminded me what it feels like to be part of something special.”
And a sense of belonging is exactly what a lot of us crave at the moment. Like many, Emily’s struggled with her mental health during lockdown. She’s a full-time teacher who’s had to adjust to a new normal ‘classroom’. Not only that, she’s a mum.
“I couldn’t see a way out. But this ‘thing’ happening on Sunday night has completely changed my outlook. I feel like I’ve started a new and exciting chapter.”
Emily, we can’t wait to take on this chapter with you.
Emily’s story inspires us all. And though Kian will leave a mark on everyone he knew, he’ll forever hold a place in our hearts. If he could see his GCSE Physics teacher now, we can only imagine how proud he’d be.