It was a simple enough idea, 19-year-old Danni Messina thought.
She’d help the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by tweeting her support for the hospital, and asking friends and sorority sisters to share the message. As a student at Washington State University and a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, she pledged 50 cents for each retweet, and a quarter every time someone favorited the tweet.
How much could it cost, with only 1,617 Twitter followers? She’d happily give $1,000.
But within hours, Danni’s tweet had thousands of retweets and favorites, and the meter was spinning out of control. Danni capped her pledge at $50,000, and began trying to raise money to pay the tab.
“So, I did something.” Danni said Tuesday, to her social media audience. “I did something really, really crazy, but something that’s been close to my heart for a long time. It ended up blowing up all over the Internet - but I guess that’s what happens. Cheers, and let’s start giving back.”
More than 800 people responded with more than $50,000 in donations and the total is still climbing. Long-standing St. Jude partners like Kmart have also gotten involved to back Danni’s efforts. Through the generosity of Danni, millions of other supporters, and partners like Kmart, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
It’s reminiscent of this quote from St. Jude founder Danny Thomas: “I'd rather have a million people give me a dollar than one give me a million. That way you've got a million people involved.”