Raise Money for Yourself, Others, or Charities with GoFundMe
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GoFundMe is the most popular way of crowdfunding. With it, you can make a page and have others (even strangers) donate to your cause.
GoFundMe Kid Heroes celebrates the kids who are using GoFundMe to change their communities and the world.
“It makes me so happy to see them happy in their new homes. I just want to rescue as many dogs as possible.”
13-year-old Molly Wogan has always loved animals, but it wasn’t until her family adopted two rescue dogs that she realized her true calling. Her pups Riley and Gracie were in a high-kill shelter before kind strangers helped them find their way to Molly’s door. When she learned how many dogs like hers get euthanized every year, Molly knew she had to take action. So for her birthday, she started a movement to help dogs in hopeless situations cross the country—and find their forever homes.
“I always wanted a dog, but the first dog I got was in 2nd grade,” says Molly. “It took a while to convince my parents.”
But once they adopted Riley, they all quickly became dog lovers. And together, 9-year-old Molly and her family started volunteering at a local shelter so they could help more dogs coming from similar situations.
Two years into volunteering, the coordinator asked Molly and her mom to take out a dog named Gracie for some exercise. She had been barking nonstop in her cage and was clearly unhappy. But as soon as she got outside, she ran and played and sat down at Molly and Mindy’s feet. Immediately, they knew she would be a part of their family.
After they filled out the adoption papers, Molly and her mom discovered a letter from a woman named Sue Ann. The letter detailed Gracie’s past: After she became pregnant in Georgia, her owner abandoned her. On the streets, Gracie contracted heartworm and pneumonia and was hit by a car. At the county shelter, she delivered her 10 puppies, whom she cared for despite her pain. Eventually, Gracie and all of her pups traveled north to Molly’s shelter to get adopted thanks to Sue Ann and a team of rescuers.
“There are so many people who rescue dogs who don’t really understand what rescue means,” says Molly’s mom, Mindy. “We didn’t. I didn’t realize the conditions these dogs came from until I read that letter from Sue Ann. I emailed her right away to tell her that Gracie was safe and in a loving family. And that’s when this all started.”
Immediately after reading Sue Ann’s letter, Molly knew that she wanted to help, too. “I wanted to give back to the people who rescued Gracie and my other dog Riley,” she says. ”And I wanted to help rescue other dogs like them.”
Molly decided to take her once-a-week volunteer shift to the next level and started the Precious Animals Wonderful Shelters (P.A.W.S.) Project for her birthday. Her goal was to raise $2,500 to give to 14 local shelters along with items like leashes, collars, and toys.
“When we first started, we were just going to raise money at events, but we realized that a lot of people wanted to donate online,” says Molly. “So we started the GoFundMe, and we really quickly got a lot of donations. Our initial goal was $2,500, and we got that in less than a month. The GoFundMe really helped people who weren’t able to come to events donate online.”
Over the year, her project grew. Molly ended up volunteering over 400 hours and sold homemade dog toys, treats, and keychains at 45 different events in addition to her GoFundMe. In just a year, she raised $38,000 — enough not only to support local shelters but also to partner with Sue Ann’s organization, EARLS Hope Rescue, to save dogs herself.
Over two separate transport trips from Georgia to her home state of Massachusetts, Molly moved 110 dogs who would have been euthanized in high-kill shelters to the Northeast, where she helped every single one find a forever home.
Soon, Molly and Mindy will embark on their third transport trip with the rescue group Road Trip Home, where they hope to save 50 more dogs. With the money they’ve raised, they can get every dog its shots, vaccines, medications, vet visits, food, and transport — about $200 total per pup.
After this next trip, Molly hopes to make at least two more transports to save 90 more dogs. To make that happen, Molly hopes to raise another $18,000 through her GoFundMe.
No matter what happens, Molly’s family couldn’t be prouder. “As a parent, watching my daughter be so selfless has been an amazing thing,” says Mindy. “She’s given up going to birthday parties and the mall to put up a table somewhere and raise money for the dogs. And what’s amazing is that she doesn’t think of it as giving something up.
“She spends a lot of her free time researching how to start her own shelter one day. She looks on real estate websites and makes inspiration boards. You know she’s committed. You’ve never met anyone more passionate about animals than this girl.”
Three-year-old Kaylee was born with cerebral palsy. And as she grew, it became difficult for her to keep up with her older sister, Isabelle. It broke Kaylee’s parents’ hearts to watch her struggle to walk. And they knew they had to find a solution before their girl grew any bigger. So one day, they set an ambitious goal: Somehow, some way, they would find a service dog and bring it to Alaska to help little Kaylee regain her freedom.
In the United States alone, around 10,000 babies are born with cerebral palsy (CP) every year. And in 2015, Kaylee was one of those kids. CP affects her reflexes, muscle coordination, and movement—and there is no cure. But Kaylee doesn’t let that keep her down.
Kaylee is full of life, love, and joy. And her parents are determined not to let her CP get in the way of that. So when her mom, Amber, learned that specialized service dogs could help kids like Kaylee get around, she started digging into the research.
But immediately, she found a big problem: Service dogs are expensive, especially when they need specialized training for conditions like CP. The best option would be to buy a purpose-bred puppy and hire a professional trainer. Even then, the puppy alone would cost $2,000, not including transportation fees to their small Alaska town. And on top of that, training would take two years and many more thousands of dollars.
But Amber knew that a specialized service dog was the best hope for Kaylee, and she wouldn’t give up hope. So she started a GoFundMe.
Amber shared videos of Kaylee as she began her service dog journey, and donations began pouring in. After a few weeks, their GoFundMe had raised $6,000—enough to help them find a puppy and start initial training.
Kaylee’s dog needed to be unflappable, dedicated, and attentive. If there were a loud noise or distraction, the dog needed to remain calm and focused—or else Kaylee might fall and hurt herself. So Amber did some digging and found a breeder in Michigan who raised dogs for police service, and she got first pick from the newest litter. That’s when she first met Riley.
Riley was a German Shepherd puppy with an attentive and sweet disposition. At 10 weeks old, she made her journey from Michigan to Eagle River, Alaska, where she met her family and began training for her new life with Kaylee.
From there, Riley took five weeks of lessons with a local trainer to get her started on her two-year training endeavor. To save money, Amber also took classes with the trainer to learn how she could teach Riley at home.
After several months of training, Riley can now go out in public with Kaylee and her family without getting distracted, and she knows over 30 commands. Soon, her growing body will be strong enough to support Kaylee’s weight as well, and they’ll be able to walk together at home, school, and around town.
While Riley has made great progress in a short amount of time, she still has over a year of training left to go. Amber estimates that it will cost her family at least $4,000 to complete Riley’s training.
But the smile on Kaylee’s face makes it all worth it. Because her parents know that no matter the cost, someday soon Kaylee and Riley will walk side by side, free to wander and explore. And that will be priceless.
“In a city with so many resources, there are still people who struggle to survive. So I thought, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Last August, college senior Kaitlin McLean saw a video about people who crochet plastic bags into yarn—or “plarn.” Kaitlin thought it was a cool idea. But it wasn’t until she walked downtown and saw people sleeping on the streets that she saw its true promise: Maybe she could turn bags into beds for homeless people. So that day, she got to work on her first plarn sleeping mat and started a campus-wide movement.
Kaitlin’s mom had been trying to get her daughter to try crocheting for years. So when she saw the plarn video on social media, she thought it might interest her eco-conscious daughter. Sure enough, Kaitlin was impressed. Around the same time, she read a news story about the dozens of homeless people who die every year on the streets of Salt Lake City due to exposure.
Kaitlin quickly put two and two together: Plarn mats would provide cushion and a waterproof barrier against the freezing, wet ground for people sleeping on the streets. And she could help.
Even though Kaitlin was a full-time student at the University of Utah with limited free time, she was determined to put what little time she had to good use. If she couldn’t make mats for every homeless person in Salt Lake City, she could at least make one. Kaitlin reached out to local homeless shelters to see if they would accept plarn mats, and they said yes. So she learned to crochet and got to work.
Several hours passed, and Kaitlin had only managed to crochet a foot of her planned 3-by-6-foot mat. She realized that she would make a lot more progress with the help of friends. So she taught them how to crochet, too. They’d gather together, talk, crochet, and hang out—while giving back.
Kaitlin quickly saw that her Bags to Beds project might appeal to more students, so she approached the university’s community outreach center. They loved her idea and connected her with local youth and community groups who volunteered their time as well. Bags to Beds also caught the eye of the university’s athletic directors, who saw it as a great opportunity for their athletes to give back to the community.
The Bags to Beds crew began collecting thousands of plastic bags campus-wide and hosting Plarn Parties to knock out several mats at a time. From the start, Kaitlin took a do-one-teach-one approach. If every person crocheted a mat and then taught someone else to do the same, her movement would spread like wildfire.
Kaitlin also looked to expand Bags to Beds’ reach beyond the campus and started reaching out to local businesses. They were interested, but they wouldn’t work with volunteer organizations that weren’t nonprofits. So Kaitlin started a GoFundMe to turn Bags to Beds into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
In the six months since starting her GoFundMe, Kaitlin has raised over $1,700 for Bags to Beds. With more donations, she hopes that they will be able to become an official nonprofit and afford more tools and outreach to expand their impact.
Kaitlin’s current goal is to make 100 mats by this Thanksgiving. But ultimately, she hopes to grow Bags to Beds until there are no more plastic bags going to waste and no more homeless people sleeping on the cold, wet streets.
“Rather than wait for the positive change…I decided I wanted to be that change myself.”
When she was three years old, Shaza Saker moved to Rome, Italy from Syria. She grew up, went to school, and started working for the United Nations. But she never forgot about her roots or the people she left behind. When the Syrian refugee crisis hit its peak in early 2017, Shaza knew that she couldn’t just stand by and watch. So she came up with a revolutionary idea to empower refugees that started with a simple ingredient: hummus.
Like many people, Shaza felt for the refugees who arrived seeking asylum every day.
But she also knew that charity wasn’t what these people wanted or needed in the long run—they needed independence. And they needed the opportunity to make their own income.
“The way I saw it, the main problem Syrian refugees face…is that despite whatever expertise or skills they bring from their home country, they are at an immediate disadvantage because…they don’t speak the language and they don’t have the network of support that would allow them to explore income opportunities,” says Shaza.
Without a support system, it could take refugees years to assimilate and start putting their skills to good use for both themselves and their new home countries. That’s when Shaza dreamed up Hummustown.
“The best way for these refugees to start earning an honest, dignified income is to allow them to offer the one skill that transcends all boundaries: their delicious Syrian culinary tradition,” says Shaza.
Falafel, stuffed grape leaves, kebab, fatteh, shawarma, muhammara, and, of course, hummus. Those would be the keys to economic freedom.
With the help of friends and family, Shaza built Hummustown from the ground up. She found sanitary kitchens to prepare food, built a website, and networked with groups and universities across Rome to gather support and future customers.
In just a few months, Hummustown hired six refugee workers. Among their ranks is a young delivery manager named Khaled.
“When I first arrived, my situation was extremely dire,” says Khaled. “A new language, new people, everything around you totally new…I couldn’t really communicate with anyone. When I started working with Hummustown, it was the first time I earned an income in Italy.”
Hummustown was a success. Workers were serving their Syrian delicacies to Italians at pop-up events all across Rome. But to expand, help more refugees, and become a self-sustaining business, they needed a commercial kitchen. So Shaza started a GoFundMe.
In just a few weeks, the GoFundMe raised a third of their 75,000 Euro goal, which will allow Hummustown to secure a professional kitchen and commercial storefront for an entire year.
To Shaza and Hummustown’s workers, donor support means everything. And the community in Rome has rallied around them as well:https://medium.com/media/4de828bf80f2dcf572339cf349ff8edd/href
Hummustown has connected people across cultural and language barriers. And in turn, it has changed communities for the better. One day, Shaza hopes that she will be able to pass on the business to the refugees themselves so that they can become fully independent.
To get them there, Shaza’s GoFundMe continues to raise money to secure a commercial space and professional kitchen for the year. But no matter what, Shaza knows that Hummustown is making a difference:
“Every time I see Houman or Khaled working and running around and having new ideas for the project, it fills me up. They’re so enthusiastic and want to work. This is exactly what I had hoped for.”
GoFundMe Kid Heroes celebrates the kids who are using GoFundMe to change their communities and the world.
“It has been awesome. It’s just amazing that I can do something for a veteran.”
Three years ago on Veterans Day, 10-year-old Preston Sharp went with his mom to visit his grandfather’s grave. When he arrived at the cemetery, he expected to see flags and flowers at the veterans’ graves. But there were none to be found. As the day wore on, he grew more and more frustrated. So that night, Preston decided he would do something about it—and started a nationwide movement.
Preston’s grandfather served in the U.S. Navy and died before his grandson’s birth. But that didn’t stop his grandfather from making a lasting impression on Preston’s life.
“I didn’t get to meet him, but I heard stories about him.” says Preston. “He sounded like a really funny and loving person.”
Through those stories, Preston developed a deep respect for his grandfather and the military.
So when Preston arrived at the cemetery on Veterans Day in 2015 to find not a single flag, it was a slight not just to his grandfather but to all veterans.
“I thought that there would be flags on the grave sites, but I didn’t see any. It was heartbreaking, and I got really frustrated,” says Preston.
“But my mom told me that if I see something wrong, I should do something about it—not just complain about it.”
That night when Preston and his mom, April, returned home, he told her he had a plan. He was going to place a flag and flower at every veteran’s grave in the cemetery to honor their service. April asked him how he was going to afford the flags and flowers. He said, “I’m going to start a GoFundMe.”
“So we took a picture and started the GoFundMe for Flags & Flowers for Vets that evening,” says April. “It took a while, but we were able to afford everything for the first cemetery, which had over 4,000 veterans.”
From there, Preston visited every small cemetery between his hometown of Redding, California, and the state capital, Sacramento. At every grave site, he cleared off weeds, cleaned the stones, placed a flag and flower, and thanked them by name for their service. Preston believes that it is important to say their name aloud because “a veteran’s name not said out loud is a veteran forgotten.”
He also began visiting veterans homes with his family to meet living veterans and hear their stories. On one visit around Christmas in 2016, Preston met a man named Tim and noticed that he had several pictures of a dog across his wall. He asked who the dog was and what happened to him.
“Tim teared up and said the dog’s name was Rusty, and he lived in Oregon five hours away,” says Preston. “Immediately, I thought, ‘I know I’m doing Flags & Flowers and all that, but it would be great if I could help living veterans, too. I’d rather adopt this dog for Christmas than get a new laptop.’”
Rusty now lives happily with Preston and his family, and Tim drops by regularly to visit.
Two and a half years after starting his GoFundMe, Preston is now 12 years old, has raised over $50,000, and has placed flags and flowers on over 50,000 veterans’ graves in 10 states. But he’s not done yet.
Preston continues to raise money through his GoFundMe to visit veterans’ graves across the country. On average, it costs $3 per grave site, and his goal is to honor 32,000 more veterans this summer. He hopes to raise at least $96,000 to make that dream possible.
Preston also started the Flag and Flower Challenge, which asks people to honor a veteran’s grave with a flag and flower, share on social media, and tag someone else to keep the challenge going. April estimates that over 5,000 people have participated so far.
Ultimately, Preston hopes to convince all cemeteries in the United States to honor veterans, not just on Memorial Day but every day. Until then, he’ll continue traveling the country to thank veterans and inspiring others to do the same.
“It’s just really cool that I’m getting more people to honor veterans,” says Preston. “I’ll do anything to make a veteran happy.”
Sisters Bibiana and Tindi were born without pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes. With albinism, people are unable to tan, so their skin can’t protect them from the sun’s harsh rays, and many suffer from eye problems or blindness. But in Bibiana and Tindi’s case, those were the least of their worries. Because in their home country of Tanzania, their condition put them in mortal danger.
In small villages in “Bibi” and Tindi’s home country, there are some people who believe that the bodies of people with albinism—or “albinos”—hold special powers. To get those powers for themselves, they may even attack albino people in their homes. So from birth, the sisters were in danger.
For many of their early years, the girls’ parents were able to protect them from potential aggressors. But they couldn’t protect them from everything. Other children often teased Bibi and Tindi—calling them “ghosts” and throwing rocks or spitting at them. Their mother died when they were babies, and their father often kept the girls out of school to protect them from attack.
But when Bibi and Tindi were 11 and 10, their father died from complications related to AIDS. Shortly after his burial, strangers came in the middle of the night and attacked the girls. They were able to escape with their lives that night, but Bibi lost a leg and two fingers.
For several years, the girls remained in the hospital, afraid to return to their village. That’s when Malena Ruth of the African Millennium Foundation in Los Angeles stepped in.
She heard about the girls’ plight and helped them obtain medical visas so they could travel to the US and get Bibi fitted with a new prosthetic leg.
After the girls arrived, Malena realized that she couldn’t just send the girls back into harm’s way, in an environment where they couldn’t even receive an education. So she helped the girls obtain asylum and stay in the US for school.
The only problem that remained was the school environment. When Bibi and Tindi arrived in the US, they were both diagnosed with eye problems related to albinism, and doctors discovered that Tindi had tuberculosis and severe hearing damage. They also continued to suffer from their shared trauma.
Malena asked experts for their opinions, and they all agreed: The girls needed a peaceful school environment where they could receive special one-on-one attention. They recommended that Bibi and Tindi attend a small private boarding school in the mountains outside LA.
The only problem? Tuition was expensive—even with a generous scholarship from the school.
So Malena and friends Joanna and Harriet from the African Millennium Foundation started a GoFundMe for Bibi and Tindi’s education.
In a few months, they raised over $20,000 to support the girls’ tuition. And since the girls arrived at the school, they have been thriving. They are quickly catching up on years of lost education and opportunities.
And they have big dreams. Bibiana hopes to be a forensic scientist, and Tindi dreams of being a human rights lawyer so that they can fight for people like them in their home country and put an end to the attacks on albinism.
Now, all that holds them back is tuition. Both Bibi and Tindi have up to another three years of school to catch them up to college level. Annual tuition will cost $65,000 per year for each girl. To stay in school, the girls continue to rely on donations to their GoFundMe.
And Malena is determined to help the girls fulfill their potential, no matter what it takes: “Given an opportunity, Bibiana and Tindi will embrace it and run with it. That’s what drives me to work so hard on their behalf.”
Special thanks to Bibi, Tindi, Malena, Harriet, and Joanna.
Last August, Jake was born a happy, healthy puppy. But at three weeks old, something changed. Jake couldn’t hold down food, and he kept losing weight. His owner, Beth, rushed him to the vet, where she learned that Jake had megaesophagus—and there was no cure. They suggested euthanasia, but Beth refused to give up on her boy. And so began an unlikely journey involving a bucket, a trash can, and a custom chair.
On August 6, 2017, Jake took his first breath in Beth’s hands as she delivered him and his siblings from their mother, Brie. From that moment on, she and Jake shared a special bond. So when Beth transitioned the puppies to semi-solid food and he couldn’t keep it down, she started to worry:
“He couldn’t handle it like the rest of the litter. I knew something was wrong. I gave him extra nursing time with his mom to keep his weight up, but he still couldn’t keep it on like the others could. He just kept getting sick. So I took him to the vet, and they diagnosed him with megaesophagus.”
Megaesophagus is a common condition in dogs. It means that their esophagus lacks strength and doesn’t have the ability to move food down into their stomachs, so they have to regurgitate. Aside from undernutrition, the biggest risk of megaesophagus is aspiration pneumonia—when food accidentally enters the lungs. There is no cure. And there is no known treatment.
But Beth wouldn’t give up on Jake and put him to sleep. Instead, she took his health into her own hands and turned to the internet. She found other people like herself who were desperate to save their “Mega E” dogs, and she learned ways to help during feeding time—starting with a bucket.
If she could keep Jake propped upright, gravity could help push the food into his stomach. And for a while, it worked. But as he grew, Beth had to find new containers to keep him propped up and still. Eventually, it became clear that they needed a sturdier solution. That’s when she discovered Bailey Chairs.
Bailey Chairs 4 Dogs was started by a dog owner named Susan who learned about Mega E on social media and decided that she wanted to help. She and her husband now build custom chairs in their garage for dogs with Mega E, which they sell at cost.
But even paying at cost can be expensive, especially for a large dog like Jake. His custom chair would cost upwards of $400—something Beth and her husband Ian couldn’t afford at the time with their jobs in freelance photography and law enforcement. That’s when a friend stepped in and suggested that Beth start a GoFundMe.
In just a couple weeks, Jake’s GoFundMe raised enough to buy him a custom Bailey Chair—and it changed his life.
“We got him his chair in December, and his weight doubled,” says Beth. “We are able to feed him double the amount that we used to, and he keeps almost everything down now. It’s so much easier to keep him in the proper position.”
But Jake’s journey is not over yet. Even with the Bailey Chair, his special foods and medications cost around $200 per month. And he continues to be at risk for aspiration pneumonia, which is life-threatening and requires expensive treatment. But recently, Beth learned about an unlikely source of hope: sildenafil (better known as Viagra).
In 2017, an Italian team of scientists conducted a trial with dogs like Jake who were born with Mega E. They gave some of the dogs a solution containing sildenafil and others a placebo. The dogs who received the medication were better able to get food into their stomachs. For the first time, it seems that Mega E may be treatable—or even curable.
“The treatment affects their lower esophagus and can stimulate the nerves so that they may work again,” says Beth. “In some cases, dogs have even gone into remission. But to get Jake on the treatment, it would take two pills per day for a couple weeks or even months.”
To get Jake this treatment and help with his other expenses, Beth has raised the goal of their GoFundMe. Even just $400 would sustain Jake for a month and get him through his first round of treatment.
Above all, Beth hopes that her and Jake’s story inspires other dog owners out there to realize that there is hope after a diagnosis of Mega E. It may require a little more work and a little more patience, but ultimately, a dog like Jake will always be worth it.
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When Bella Schorr was born in June 2015, everything seemed to be going smoothly—until the doctor came out to the waiting room and pulled her father aside. There was some bad news: Bella had spina bifida. And as she grew, her paralyzed legs kept her from walking, or even crawling around. Something had to give. That’s when relatives stepped in with a novel idea that changed her life and launched a movement: Bella’s Bumbas.
Bella was born in Buffalo, New York, as a scheduled C-section. After the delivery, the doctors detected something abnormal during her initial examination. It was news that no parent wants to receive.
Meanwhile, Bella’s father Jeffrey was waiting outside the delivery room for news about his baby girl. Two hours later, “the doctor came out, pulled me aside, and said, ‘Hey, we have some bad news.’”
Bella had spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the spinal cord and causes leg weakness, paralysis, and other neurological problems.
“My first reaction was extreme anger,” says Jeffrey. “There’s nothing that can be done to repair it.”
All that could be done was to wait and see how much the condition would affect Bella’s mobility as she grew. And a year later, that effect became clear.
“When Bella was about a year old, she couldn’t walk,” says Jeffrey. “She couldn’t crawl around. She was paralyzed from her knees down. For her, getting around had to be 100% a struggle.”
It was painful to watch Bella attempt to play with her siblings or even move around, and it didn’t seem that there was much to be done. That’s when Jeffrey’s Aunt Rebecca and Uncle Marty stepped in with a proposal: Maybe they could fashion Bella a small wheelchair out of a Bumbo floor seat.
The seat is made from a comfortable foam that helps infants sit upright while on the floor, and it has two notches to keep little legs still and secure. If they added a base, a seatbelt, and some wheels that small hands could easily push, it just might work.
Marty went to his garage and started tinkering. Soon after, he emerged with a brand new wheelchair: dubbed a “Bumba” in honor of Bella.
When Jeffrey strapped Bella into her Bumba chair for the first time, he says, “It was like night and day.” For the first time, she could chase after and keep up with her siblings as they played. She smiled, laughed, and zipped around.
“It really gave Bella a sense of freedom,” Jeffrey says. “It helped her blossom into the girl she is today.”
When Rebecca and Marty saw the difference the chair made in Bella’s life, they wondered if they could do the same for other kids like her. So with Jeffrey’s support, they started a nonprofit called Bella’s Bumbas to make free wheelchairs for little kids.
Bella’s Bumbas are free for families—all they have to pay is shipping. The nonprofit runs entirely on donations, so they started a GoFundMe.
To date, their GoFundMe has raised over $27,000 to help little ones. Bella’s Bumbas is entirely volunteer-run, so no one makes a dime. Jeffrey, Rebecca, and Marty’s reward is the joy they see from kids who receive Bumbas.
“What keeps us going is the smiles of children we see online,” says Jeffrey. “We just hope that we can continue to do what we’re doing. To get our mission out to families that may benefit greatly from Bumbas.”
To date, Bella’s Bumbas has shipped over 300 wheelchairs worldwide—to 40 states and 9 countries. They hope to be able to send 700 to kids in need by the end of 2018.
With more donations, Bella’s Bumbas can help even more kids gain mobility, freedom, and blossom into the kids they deserve to be.
Special thanks to Jeffrey, Bella, Marty, Rebecca, and the entire Schorr family.
GoFundMe Heroes celebrates the everyday people who do extraordinary things on GoFundMe.
“After college, I moved to Boston and tried to find a paying job. Everyone told me I was ‘not a good fit for the company.’ So I decided to open my own business.”
Two years ago, Collette Divitto never dreamed she’d one day be invited to speak at the United Nations. All she really dreamed about was getting a job. After each interview, she left feeling optimistic—only to get a rejection email. Because no matter her smarts and likability, one detail always held Collette back: her Down syndrome. So after countless rejections, she decided to take her future into her own hands—starting with one incredible cookie.
Collette Divitto first learned how to bake in high school. Once she got a handle on the basics, she started inventing her own recipes on the weekends. Collette’s creations were always good, but one day in 2011, she made a cookie that blew her family away. It was packed with chocolate chips, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and baked to a golden brown.
“We’d always try the recipes she created, but one day she made a cookie that was so good,” says Collette’s mom, Rosemary. “We told her, ‘Do you remember the recipe? You have to write it down.’”
Collette named it her “Amazing Cookie.” It was so tempting that her family even suggested she start her own business to sell it. But Collette had other plans: She wanted to go to college.
After high school, Clemson University accepted Collette into its advanced two-year LIFE program. Once she graduated, she moved to Boston to begin her job search in earnest. Little did she know that job search would take three years.
Everyone wanted to hire Collette for unpaid volunteer positions.
But when it came to paying jobs, she’d get past several rounds of encouraging interviews, only to return home and learn she’d been rejected yet again.
“After college, I tried to find a paying job,” says Collette. “But everyone would tell me over email that I was ‘not a good fit for the company.’”
At one of her volunteer jobs, they loved Collette and asked her to take on more and more responsibilities. She asked to be paid for her efforts, and they told her not to show up the next day. Soon after, Collette found that same role listed on a job site—as a paid position.
“This happened over and over again,” says Rosemary. “Collette realized they meant that because of her disability, she didn’t fit in. The whole process was very disappointing.”
But rather than give up, Collette decided that she would make her own job opportunity—and pave the way for others like her. So at the end of 2016, she took her Amazing Cookie to a local market, convinced them to stock it on their shelves, and officially launched her own business: Collettey’s Cookies.
With the help of her sister, Blake, Collette shared the story of her new cookie business on social media. Quickly, the word began to spread, and in no time at all, local reporters were on the steps of the local market to ask about Collette. Orders started rolling in, but she didn’t have a commercial kitchen to make cookies at scale. So the market owner allowed her to use his kitchen in the evenings and on weekends.
From there, Blake put out the call on social media for volunteers. Groups showed up from eight colleges throughout Massachusetts, including the entire Northeastern baseball team. Every day, 15 people crowded themselves into the tiny market kitchen to help Collette bake her Amazing Cookies.
In just one month, Collette received 7,000 cookie orders. Even with the added help, she knew she needed a real commercial kitchen—one where she could produce cookies in bulk, instead of a batch at a time. That’s when her mom started a GoFundMe.
In just a few months, Collette’s GoFundMe raised enough to help her business secure a real kitchen with a big freezer, fridge, and 80-quart mixer. Now, she can make 5,000 cookies in a single day—and she’s not doing it alone.
To date, Collette has hired 13 people—several of whom have disabilities—to join her ranks. And when demand increases, she has a list of 30 more people she knows who are looking for jobs.
“She’s a little bit like her mother—a bit of a control freak,” says Rosemary, laughing. “She interviews every person twice who’s looking for a job. She’s very particular whom she gives her recipe to, and she carefully trains them.”
A large national market chain recently approached Collette about getting shelf space in their stores, and she has an opportunity to work with a big distributor who will help expand her business even more. All that stands in her way is storage capacity. So now, Collette’s GoFundMe continues to raise money to expand her business even more.
New donations will go toward extra freezer space, distribution materials, and a new mixer that will be dedicated to Collette’s newest creation: a special breakfast cookie. She also hopes to get the word out more through local events and sponsorships—none of which comes cheap.
Above all, Collette hopes to bring more awareness to the lack of job opportunities for people with disabilities. This past World Down Syndrome Day, the United Nations even invited her to speak on the topic and share how Collettey’s Cookies is changing the playing field.
“Collette has woken everyone up a little bit about hiring people with disabilities,” says Rosemary. “82% of people with disabilities can’t find paying jobs, and many are living in poverty. But Collette is proof that just because someone has a labeled disability doesn’t mean they can’t be very effective in the business world.”
With more support, Collette can continue to expand her business and hire more people with disabilities. Ultimately, she hopes to take Collettey’s Cookies nationwide and employ thousands more.
It may sound daunting, but Collette says she’s up for the challenge:
“I’m a tough cookie.”
A GoFundMe Studios Original Production
“Today I’m going to do something completely unknown. I’ve never run 100 miles before.”
Kate Fletcher teaches English at a high school in rural Virginia. At age 35, she started running to show her students that any goal is possible with dedication and hard work. Eventually, Kate worked her way up from 5Ks to marathons. And in 2015, an idea struck her: Maybe she could use running to benefit her students. So she started a college scholarship run to reward seniors who persevere despite the obstacles they face.
And this year, Kate set her fundraising goal higher than ever before. To help more students, she would run 100 miles—in just 24 hours.
When Kate first joined Louisa County High School in 2005, she wasn’t sure if teaching was the right fit for her. But she quickly realized that teaching was so much more than lesson plans and grade books—it was about inspiring students, and in turn, being inspired by them.
“I came to teaching not really certain if it was the right path for me in life,” says Kate. “But these kids have shown me so much about myself and about what people are capable of. I saw students pushing through and overcoming difficulties, finding a way to persevere despite the odds against them.”
In rural Louisa County, Virginia, 40% of students receive free or reduced lunch. “We’re a community of need,” says LCHS’s Director of Guidance and Counseling, Todd Ryan. “There are students who leave here on Friday afternoon, and the next meal they know they’re going to have might be Monday morning.”
Whether it’s dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, family members in prison, or just the everyday struggles of poverty, many students arrive at school stressed and distracted. And it’s for them that Kate began running.
When she was young, Kate had severe asthma, which kept her from running. So eight years ago when she decided to take on a challenge to show her students that they can overcome anything, running was the obvious choice.
With hard work and many hours spent on the school track, Kate slowly worked her way up from 5Ks to 10Ks to full-on marathons. And over time, her runs took on a life of their own:
“When I’m running, I’m able to see the world around me more clearly,” says Kate. “And a lot of that is about seeing what I’m grateful for and reflecting upon my life and what matters to me. And my students are a huge part of what matters to me.”
So at the start of the 2015–16 school year, Kate decided to combine her two passions into one special cause: the Lion Pride Run.
That first year, Kate ran 36 miles on the LCHS Lions’ track to raise money for college scholarships. The school then awarded the scholarships to seniors who had persevered despite the challenges they faced. Last year, Kate upped her run to 50 miles and raised over $5,000.
This year, she took on her biggest challenge yet: 100 miles. Unlike in previous years, 2018's Lion Pride Run would take Kate from dawn to dusk to dawn again. Because not only would she run 100 miles, she’d also do it in 24 hours.
To match her run with an equally ambitious scholarship goal, Kate decided to take fundraising online and expand her reach on GoFundMe.
On the first day of Kate’s 100-mile run, three scholarship recipients from past years showed up to cheer her on, run alongside her, and express their gratitude. Among them was Jamecia, who is currently pursuing a double major at the University of Virginia.
“My seventh grade year, my mother was incarcerated,” says Jamecia. “During that period, I focused all my energy, the negative emotions, the sad emotions—I focused all of that into my education.”
When asked about Kate—or, as her students call her, Mrs. Fletcher—Jamecia says, “I cannot explain how grateful I am to have been taught by such a wonderful person.”
Kate ran all morning, day, and night through sleet, snow, and fog. By morning on the second day, she was at the 90-mile mark and had a surprising realization: “The hardest thoughts [have been], ‘I’m not sure I can do this. Maybe I took on too much. Maybe I took on something too hard.’ I think I went through a lot of what the kids go through.”
As the sun rose and burned off the fog, the students poured off the buses and crowded the school track to cheer Kate on in her final laps. As she crossed the finish line for the 400th time, students and faculty met her with cheers, high fives, and hugs. 100 miles: complete.
Eight years ago, Kate couldn’t run three miles in one go. Today, she’s an ultra-marathon runner. Year after year, she has shown her students that anything is possible if you just set your mind to it.
Now, Kate hopes that her efforts will attract more support for her kids at LCHS and help them pursue their college dreams: “The goal now is to double the number of scholarships we were able to give out last year and sustainably keep giving out that many every year for the next decade.”
In Kate’s words as she completed her final laps: “When my body starts to really hurt, I tell myself, ‘I’m more than just my body and more than just my mind. What I am is part of all of them. I’m part of that community. I’m doing this for them.’”
Because in Kate’s eyes, we’re all in this together.