MEMPHIS, Tenn., Dec. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®, Christmas is coming a little early thanks to Danni Messina, whose recent viral tweet sparked a spontaneous and incredibly successful fundraising drive that will help the hospital fulfill its mission of Finding cures. Saving children®.
The Memphis hospital is welcoming Messina for a special tour and meeting with a St. Jude patient. Her final fundraising total will also be revealed, capping a whirlwind few weeks that began Nov. 25 when the Washington State University sophomore tweeted to her then-modest group of 1,617 followers that she would donate 50 cents to St. Jude for each retweet and a quarter every time someone favorited the tweet.
"It really has been an incredible experience. It has warmed my heart talking to patients and learning about their stories, but also seeing so many people help out this amazing cause," Messina said. "It started with a tweet but it's so much more than that—it's people coming together to make a difference this holiday season."
The tweet that started it all was simple in its intent: "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."
The tweet went viral in a matter of hours, ultimately receiving more than 476,000 likes and 205,000 retweets.
"We sincerely appreciate the awareness that Danni Messina and her Twitter campaign effort have brought to our mission," said Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "She reminds us of the power and importance of helping others, and how contagious that spirit is in this season of giving thanks."
After the tweet went viral, Messina told her social media followers, among them her sorority sisters, that she "did something really, really crazy, but something that's been close to my heart for a long time." As a member of Tri Delta, St. Jude Partner of the Year in 2014, Messina was already familiar with the hospital and its life-saving work and knew that St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
But she did not know just how much her one little tweet would inspire others. As news of her pledge quickly spread across the country, she set up a GoFundMe campaign to reach her goal for St. Jude. More than 1,600 people contributed to the campaign, raising nearly $100,000 in three weeks.
St. Jude partner Kmart took notice of her campaign and got involved to support her efforts, creating a "Danni Messina Day" in its stores Dec. 2 that raised $86,418 for St. Jude in Messina's name.
For her part, Messina dipped into her savings and contributed $1,000 to St. Jude. In all, nearly $185,000 is being donated to St. Jude because of Messina's one little tweet.
"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," said Shadyac.
Messina also is grateful to be able to share the story of St. Jude this holiday season.
"The awareness for St. Jude has also been outstanding, and it's great to see that more people have been informed about the amazing services that St. Jude provides," she said.
About St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent, and we won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook (facebook.com/stjude) and following us on Twitter (@stjude).
SOURCE ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital