Over the weekend, Messina had an idea to give back in a big way via social media after she learned her friend had to spend Thanksgiving at his local St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with his grandmother.
She told BuzzFeed News it was then that she realized many family members — especially children — were forced to spend the holidays in their hospital beds.
“It hit me that a lot of kids have the reality of having to be in the hospital with their families,” Messina said. “I feel so fortunate that I have everything I need. There are so many other families that need so much more.
“I wanted to give back this holiday season.”
Messina said she didn’t expect to go viral, targeting the tweet at her friends and sorority sisters online.
She had planned to donate about $1,000 of her own money, but her tweet “started to grow” quickly.
Within a day, it had already amassed well over the $1,000 she had anticipated.
She said one patient named Emily told her it cost her family $33,000 for her to be flown to a hospital to seek treatment. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of St. Jude.
As a patient at St Jude, I want to say thank you. Without the generosity of people donating, so many of us would no… https://t.co/6EERWzmJBB
“I was too critical to survive a ambulance ride from New Orleans to Memphis. I spent the holiday season of 2016 at the hospital,” Emily told BuzzFeed News, adding, “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee prides itself on not charging families for treatment, travel, housing, or food as they believe all a family should worry about is saving their child’s life.”
“It touched my heart,” Messina said upon hearing Emily’s story. “I know I’m personally doing it for the children of St. Jude’s and the people involved.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Richard Shadyac Jr., the president and CEO of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), an organization that raises funds and awareness for St. Jude, thanked Messina for “remind[ing] us of the power and importance of helping others.”
“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,” Shadyac Jr. said.
Nov. 28, 2017, at 16:41 PM
The cost of St. Jude patient Emily’s medical flight was $33,000 alone. A previous version misstated that the bill was for her family.