Four years ago when I came to Cisco, I had an “aha” moment about video. Cisco had created incredible technology that shrinks the distance between people, but it was bottled up in the boardroom; I wanted to get it in the hands of everyone. It was an exciting goal. It felt urgent and important.
Then I got a note from the mother of ten-year-old Peyton Walton. “Urgent” and “important” took on a different level of meaning.
Peyton and her mother have endured the unthinkable. “If cancer was to take my child,” her mom wrote to me, “I did not want her last days spent watching “Teen Titans”. Peyton has always loved going to school and I knew that if I could get her to attend school, it would give her something positive to focus on and change her mental outlook…it would give all of us hope.”
Thanks to her mom’s tenacity and her teacher’s commitment, Peyton used Cisco video to shrink the 600 miles between her hospital bed and her classmates. Being able to take part in class, her mom said, “had a profound effect on her demeanor and unmeasurable effect on her ability to fight her cancer”. That sentence makes me choke up with emotion.
It touches me deeply, knowing that the technology our team makes played a small role in Peyton’s recovery story. It also inspires our team to work harder to get this technology—and the next, even better versions—to more people, faster.
When I was Peyton’s age, I usually had my head buried in science fiction magazines. They had these crazy futuristic, hand-drawn cartoons showing people talking to other people over screens. I was fascinated. And I became obsessed with the idea of computers being able to make distance disappear. Many of the engineers on my team have similar stories—ask around and you’ll find a lot of people here watched a lot of Star Trek and still want their very own holodecks.
We still have that childlike passion. And now, working at Cisco, we are in a position to make these things real. When you combine passion and capability with inspiration from a story as powerful as Peyton’s, incredible things happen.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Peyton. It is so brave of you to do that. Our team is honored to have played a small part. We are still on a mission to get this into the hands of everyone and your inspiring story just might help us be able to make it happen even sooner.
For more on Peyton’s incredible story and Cisco’s innovative efforts to drive inclusion, read Shari Slate’s latest blog.