19-year-old Danni Messina was trying to do a good deed when she posted a tweet on her Twitter account supporting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and promising to donate money to the pediatric facility for each favorite and retweet. Messina assumed that 25 cents for each retweet and 50 cents for each favorite would result in her donating around $1000 to the hospital. With just over 600 followers, she didn’t realize how quickly her tweet would catch on. She first tweeted early in the morning on November 26, but soon discovered that she had vastly underestimated Twitter users. By the next afternoon, her tweet had been retweeted by thousands of people and received hundreds of likes. Messina realized that, according to her promise, she now owed St. Jude’s more than $40,000. The sum was much more than her original $1000 amount and completely beyond her means as a struggling college student at Washington State University.
Overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for her cause online, she quickly ended her Twitter fundraising campaign. When the final social media numbers were totaled, Messina found that her pledge would be around $200,000 if she stuck to her original parameters. However, despite her financial limitations, Messina wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. She launched a GoFundMe page online to help her fulfill her pledge. The online community responded with generosity, donating over $50,000 in five days. Messina says that she will donate the money to St. Jude’s along with $1000 of her own money.
Messina was inspired to tweet her pledge after she found out her friend was spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his grandmother at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Moved by the plight of children who are forced to be in the hospital during the holidays, Messina decided to send the charitable tweet supporting St. Jude’s out to her followers. She never expected the pledge to gain so much attention, but her efforts have won her praise from patients at St. Jude’s and their families. Her donations will help defray the massive cost of running St. Jude’s. The hospital provides free healthcare, but daily operating costs amount to more than $2 million.