Laughing at His Nightmare: Shane Burcaw’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Shane Burcaw is the President of his own non-profit organization called Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. He is also an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with, whether it’s in person or online. When Shane was two, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II, which is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. Together with his cousin Sarah and the other employees at Laughing At My Nightmare, Inc. Shane helps other families who are impacted by the disease, while raising funds that go towards research—and making people laugh:

“I started this company about three years ago with my cousin Sarah, and now that we have both graduated from university, we work full-time with several other employees to change the world every day! Our mission is to help families affected by muscular dystrophy get the items they need to live comfortable, healthy, productive lives. We also work to teach people about the benefits of humor and positivity.” To date, Laughing At My Nightmare Inc. has raised over $17,000 for Muscular Dystrophy research!

Shane is a graduate of Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA and he grew up in Bethlehem as well, but through his social media presence, he is reaching people all around the world:

“In 2011, I started a blog about living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I live with the knowledge that my muscles are wasting away as I get older, and some day my disease will cut my life short. However, I’ve learned that approaching my problems with a sense of humor makes them much easier to deal with. To my utter amazement, my blog took off, and pretty soon I had hundreds of thousands of followers tuning in to my stories! Along the way, I decided to write a memoir, which just recently came out. You can purchase an autographed copy via

Although it may be difficult to get around at times, Shane says what he loves the most about his job is traveling and meeting new people:

“One of the biggest things I do for my job is traveling to give speeches to schools and businesses. We have developed an awesome presentation that makes the audience laugh and think about their lives from a new perspective. I love interacting with people, getting to know their stories. Plus, I get to see the world in the process, which I also love!”

In 2013, Shane was featured in a documentary series called “My Last Days”. The documentary was created by the people at SoulPancake, a media company (and YouTube Channel) which was founded by actor, Rainn Wilson. The video, which was directed by Justin Baldoni, is worth watching in its entirety. It follows Shane and his close family and friends as he shows us what his “nightmare” consists of. However, through it all, they laugh together as well as at each other and carry on about their days in a positive light. For Burcaw, “The SoulPancake experience was life changing.” He says that “they brought my story to the world in such a beautiful way.” You can watch the video here. Also in 2013, Shane won an Emmy award for a documentary he co-produced called “Happiness Is Always an Option”!

Shane Burcaw lives every day like it is his last, not because it could be, but because it is a good way to live (and work) in order to achieve his goals. Here are Shane’s words of encouragement for anyone who may need them:

“Expect the unexpected. So many times throughout life, things have turned out in a way that has completely blown my mind. Anything is possible if you just go for it. But nothing is possible if you give up because you’re expecting to fail or not reach your biggest dreams.”

To learn more about Shane and to make a donation to his non-profit organization, or to buy an autographed copy of his hilarious book, Laughing at My Nightmare, please visit, . You can also read his blog, where it all began on Tumblr and follow him on Twitter.