It started as a college student's Thanksgiving weekend tweet, all with the best of intentions. CBS News reports that Washington State University student Danni Messina wanted to donate money to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which treats kids with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and she decided to raise more awareness by posting about it on social media. Messina put up a tweet on Nov. 25 that said she'd pony up 25 cents of her own money to the hospital for every "favorite" she received on Twitter, and 50 cents for every retweet, figuring a few friends would cheer her on and pass the message along. But the tweet caught fire, garnering more than 470,000 favorites and more than 203,000 retweets—meaning Messina would need to write a check out for nearly $220,000. "I was originally planning on donating personally $1,000," she says.
The 19-year-old, who doesn't have $200,000 lying around, put a halt to the offer the next day. But she didn't want to totally renege, so she created a GoFundMe to at least partly make up the gap. As of Friday, she'd raised more than $60,000. She explains on the fundraising page that she got the idea to donate to St. Jude after a friend told her about visiting with his grandmother in the hospital over the holiday. "It made me start thinking about the children who were spending their holidays in the hospital, and how it really was a reality for others," she says. Per the Spokesman-Review, St. Jude posted an acknowledgment of her efforts online. And a woman who says she's a St. Jude patient also made note. "I want to say thank you," she tweeted. "Without the generosity of people donating, so many of us would not be here today. I owe my life to St Jude."