• WSU teen crowdfunds for St. Jude after her tweet went viral

    By: Siemny Kim

    Updated:

    A Renton teen's plan to donate to St. Jude's Children's Hospital got her in over her head when her idea went viral. So, she is turning to the internet to help her fulfill her promise.

    “I had no idea it was going to get this big,” Danni Messina said.

    KIRO 7 used Skype to speak with Messina, who is in Pullman attending Washington State University.

    She shared her inspiration behind the now-viral tweet.

    “I was talking to a friend about what he was doing for Thanksgiving and he told me that he was going to spend it with his grandma in the hospital,” Messina explained.

    That's when Messina, 19, realized how lucky she was.

    “That’s where I kind of got the idea to give back this holiday season,” she added. Messina, a member of Tri Delta sorority, turned to social media.

    On Saturday, she tweeted "This time of year is about giving - this year, I am giving back to St. Jude & the families who are supported by their amazing services."

     

    For each favorite her tweet received, she pledged to donate 25 cents, and 50 cents for every retweet.

    “I thought it was going to be a few friends in the house,” Messina said.

    But her tweet went viral. So far, it's been retweeted more than 195,000 times and gotten more than 452,000 likes.

    That would put her on the hook for more than $200,000. Messina had saved $1,000 to donate. But knew she couldn't keep her Twitter promise.

    So, she turned to social media again. This time, she set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise donations for St. Jude.


    As of Tuesday afternoon, she's raised $8,000 of her $50,000 goal.

    “It’s a community effort now, I think,” Messina explained.

    Patients and families tweeted Messina, thanking her for supporting the hospital research facility.

    Messina received some bitter reaction when she realized she couldn't honor her commitment.

    She pushed back with positivity, saying she's going to give back what she can.

    “I've honestly kind of skipped over them,” Messina said. “I don’t think I need the negativity.”

    “I want to keep up the positivity. I want to keep up the awareness,” she said. “Just keep raising money for St. Jude because it's such an amazing cause.”

    Richard Shadyac Jr., the president and CEO of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), an organization that raises funds and awareness for St. Jude, thanked Messina.

    "Danni’s intentions are pure," Shadyac Jr. said in a statement to BuzzFeed. "While she has learned a lesson on how quickly a moment can become viral, she also reminds us of the power and importance of helping others and how contagious that spirit is in this season of giving thanks."


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