Teen finds herself on the hook for $200,000 after tweet about charity goes viral

SEATTLE  -- A 19-year-old college student in Washington state says she had no idea a simple tweet, pledging money to St. Jude Children's Hospital would go viral, according to KCPQ.

The idea was simple enough: one of giving back during the holiday season. Danni Messina tweeted:

"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 every favorite : $.25
every retweet : $.50
go give. go st. Jude!!"

What she wasn’t counting on was the power of social media and how one simple pledge can turn into an endless allegiance of kindness.

“It just kept going up and up and, yeah, I really did have that moment of omigosh what do I do,” says Messina.

The tweet now has over 203,000 retweets and 470,000 favorites. The viral tweet brings her total "bill" to over $219,000.

Messina says she was inspired to raise the money after a friend spent Thanksgiving in the hospital with a family member.

“I realized that is a reality for a lot of people and for a lot of families. These kids are in this amazing place. They are at St. Jude’s, but also they are there for a holiday,” says Messina.

“It was just friends retweeting and then their friends retweeting and then their friends retweeting,” says Messina. “They kept on sharing and I think that was the craziest part of it, like whoa, this many thousands of people saw this tweet and it went viral."

A little overwhelmed by the response, but staying true to her promise, Danni created a Gofundme page. She set a goal for $50,000 and surpassed that number within three days thanks to the generosity of over 800 people. As of Friday morning, the account had more than $60,000 in donations.

“It’s like it doesn’t even seem real to me like how it all happened. Hitting the goal today, I called my mom and we both started crying,” says Messina.

Her new goal is to reach that $200,000 mark by Christmas.

“My dad used to say good karma always comes back around, so I’m sticking to that for sure,” says Messina.

St. Jude shared this message from Richard Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC):

At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital we sincerely appreciate the awareness that Danni Messina and her Twitter campaign effort have brought to our mission: Finding cures. Saving children.®

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.

With our long-standing partners such as Kmart, Tri Delta and others, who over the years have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and generosity, we are working to enable Danni to fulfill her beautiful intentions to help the kids at St. Jude.

On this #GivingTuesday, 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.

As our founder Danny Thomas stated, “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.”

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