The Internet can truly be amazing. The online community Reddit has come together to help a family raise more than $55,000 to support their child’s bone marrow transplant and recovery.
When the parents of Lucas Gonzalez found out that a bone marrow transplant could be the cure for their three-year-old son’s rare immune disorder, they were ready to pack up their bags and baby Liam in Jacksonville, Fla. and take a leave of absence from their jobs for six months to undergo treatment and recovery at Duke University Medical Center. However, the costs of living, medical bills, day-to-day costs and bills piling up back home would likely sink the family into an insurmountable financial hole. A financial adviser estimated that they would need $50,000 to get through the trying time.
Enter Reddit. Under the username “ironyx,” Lucas’ aunt’s boyfriend took to the online community’s Assistance board for help, posting an image gallery of Lucas holding signs explaining his situation, along with documentation from his doctor. Lucas’ condition affects just one in a million people and is called Hyper IGM Syndrome, a blood disorder that “leads to life threatening infections as pneumonias, meningitis, and a significant risk of early death in childhood,” according to Lucas’s doctor, Suhag H. Parikh, from Duke University Medical Center.
Just 12 hours after the initial posting asking for users to help by donating to a PayPal account set up on the family’s website for Lucas, Reddit had helped raise over $31,000 for the Gonzalez family. Reddit user “backpackwayne,” moderator of the Assistance subreddit, championed the efforts and proclaimed, “This is my proudest moment as a redditor!” Other Reddit users chimed in saying that acts of kindness like this solidified their belief in what their community could accomplish.
Lucas’ dad, Luis Gonzalez, went on Reddit to do an AMA—or “Ask Me Anything” Q&A—and expressed his thanks to the huge acts of kindness the family has received from complete strangers: “Thank you all again for your incredible kindness. I can’t even begin to convey our gratitude. I stand in awe of Reddit.”
Ironyx (who started it all) went on to thank the community as well: “December was looking to be a very stressful and challenging month, with only harder times to follow. And then… you guys and girls showed up. It has been absolutely surreal and Beth and Luis (and Lucas!) are absolutely thrilled. I am completely blown away and I think that I’m still in shock to be totally honest. Any doubt that I ever had in humanity has been entirely washed away.”
Reddit members are now organizing to send Lucas Christmas cards, and any money that is donated and not needed to cover the family’s costs are planned to go toward charity. The website is planning to turn into a blog tracking the toddler’s progress through the procedure in January, and Luis plans to get a tattoo of the Reddit alien logo with a heart over its chest as a token of his gratitude to the community.