Twitter turned a college student’s good deed into a viral campaign.
Washington State University sophomore Danni Messina tweeted on Saturday that for every favorite and retweet her post earned, she would donate $0.25 and $0.50, respectively, to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
She had no idea that her tweet would go viral, hitting more than 193,000 retweets and 450,000 favorites as of Tuesday.
We’re not sure her bank account was ready for that.
The total price tag for Messina’s tweet is more than $200,000 after the fundraiser went viral. Well, anyone who’s ever been a broke college student knows that number is pretty unrealistic.
“It’s pretty special to see how many people are getting together to raise money,” Messina told HuffPost. “It definitely got way bigger than I thought, but it makes me excited to think about what we can do for St. Jude.”
Messina was first inspired to give back for the holidays after a conversation with a friend who was visiting a sick grandmother for Thanksgiving.
“I was talking to my friend about how he was spending his Thanksgiving in the hospital,” she told HuffPost. “It made me think about all the people who do spend their holidays in the hospital, and so I decided it was time for change and it was time to give.”
The 19-year-old plans on making good on her donation, even if it won’t be anywhere near the total. Messina said she will personally donate $1,000 and has opened a GoFundMe account in an effort to raise $50,000 for the hospital.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a nonprofit network of children’s hospitals that doesn’t bill families for its services. The hospitals provide housing, food, treatment and travel for families, providing relief as children fight serious illnesses.
“Originally I didn’t think of it as getting attention for the hospital but now that more and more people know about it, it’s a great way to raise awareness!” Messina told HuffPost.
Messina has currently raised more than $8,000 online for the charity. She’s reached out to celebrities on Twitter, including Ellen DeGeneres, to help reach her end goal.
“St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is grateful for the giving spirit demonstrated by millions of big-hearted people like Danni who help make it a reality that no family will ever receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food,” Richard Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, said in a statement.
Shadyac said the organization was working with longtime partners including Kmart and Tri Delta to help Messina fulfill the donation parameters set in her initial tweet.
“Danni’s intentions are pure — and 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,” he said.
This post was updated to include comment from Richard Shadyac Jr.