It started with an online friendship between two cattle veterinarians, and blossomed into a worldwide, viral campaign.
Even though he doesn’t speak a word of Ukrainian, Airdrie vet Cody Creelman, was drawn to the online videos of Vadim Pryadko, who lives in a town called Khmelnitsky near the Polish border.
“We developed a relationship,” said Creelman. “We started talking about what type of practice he was at, what kind of school he went to, about his family. He had lots of questions about how we do things in the West in terms of cow medicine. He was keen to learn how to manage different diseases, our vaccination protocols, and antibiotic strategies.”
It all started when Creelman, also an avid videomaker, left a comment on Pryadko’s YouTube channel, saying that he wished he could understand the words in the video. Since Pryadko doesn’t speak English, he used Google Translate to add subtitles and to communicate with his new Alberta friend via the social networking sites Facebook and Google Plus.
The two quickly discovered they have many things in common. They are around the same age, and both are married with one child. But it is really their passion for their practice that brought them together, said Creelman, who has no Ukrainian heritage.
“Our real connection is wanting to tell our story through the digital media,” said Creelman, 29. “As soon as I saw what a master he was at that, I was instantly drawn to what he could do.
“I kind of dragged him into our little cow vet Twitter circle and he became popular there. He’s quite the photographer, so he always tells a pretty special story through a completely foreign yet familiar perspective. He does the same job that we do, but in a completely different land. He’s been a great source of inspiration for my videos. He has a mantra of making art out of the routine.”
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Pryadko works for a large dairy, as well as at an equine stable. There are only a few veterinarians in his city of around 300,000, so he also treats dogs, cats, mules and horses.
His excellent videography skills made him a shoe-in for an annual video competition put on by diagnostic imaging company BCF Technology, which this year is offering a prize of an Easi-Scan portable ultrasound unit for cattle and equine veterinarians valued at US$14,000.
“Since he doesn’t speak English, he had no knowledge of the contest,” said Creelman, who entered his friend in the contest. “We collaborated together. He had all the muscle, I just had a couple of ideas for him.”
Creelman (@vetpracticeVAHS) is a prolific user of Twitter and has been relentlessly campaigning for his Ukrainian friend, using the hashtag #VoteforVadim. A host of producers from Alberta and across the country have taken up the cause.
But his friend is no slouch at promotion, either. In a tongue-in-cheek video titled “Dreaming of an Easi-Scan,” a sad-faced Pryadko laments the task of preg checking cows.
“My poor hand,” he says to a co-worker (played by friend Anatoly Petruk).
“Sit down, look at how Cody Creelman checks pregnancy,” the co-worker responds before showing him a video of Creelman using the Easi-Scan.
Crisply shot and tightly edited, the video also pushes the pathos button with a frustrated Pryadko in tears before his friend tells him of the video contest and the pair launch their quest to win the prize. (The video, which does contain graphic, real-life images of bovine injuries and veterinary procedures can be viewed on YouTube.)
The campaign (voting ends Oct. 19) has been a success and Pryadko is one of the six finalists.
Winning would make a world of difference for him, said Creelman.
“What I make in a day before lunch, he makes in a month,” he said. “To have something that is worth US$14,000 is very special.”
So has been the public support, he added. People have been contacting him offering to donate money in case Pryadko doesn’t win, and others have been trying to gather other veterinary and medical supplies. Many have changed their Twitter avatars to a blue and yellow checkmark to show their support for Pryadko.
“It’s so international. We have such great support throughout Europe, Australia and in Canada. It’s just been huge,” said Creelman.