'Success Kid' helps father get a kidney
Sam Griner is shown in this original photo from the 'Success Kid' meme. (Know Your Memes / Laney Robertson Griner)
Published Wednesday, April 15, 2015 10:10AM EDT
"Starred in a meme. Saved my dad's kidneys."
The father of one of the most recognizable boys on the Internet will get a life-saving kidney transplant thanks to supporters of his son's famous photo.
Eight-year-old Sam Griner was once the pudgy-faced, fist-pumping toddler who spawned the Internet meme known as "Success Kid." The original photo shows Sam clutching a fistful of sand on the beach, moments after smashing a sandcastle. His steely-eyed expression helped the photo go viral in 2007, spawning thousands of captioned images about success. Sam's face has become ubiquitous on message boards, comment threads and social media across the Internet.
Now Sam can write his own "Success Kid" meme after his family successfully raised more than $80,000 to help fund a kidney transplant for his father, Justin.
"Justin is a 39-year-old father of one in need of a kidney transplant," the Griner family wrote on their GoFundMe page last week. "Please help us reach our goal so that Justin may get the treatments and transplant he needs. His mother died from this disease, please help us write a different story for Justin and his son, Sam."
The Griners launched their campaign on April 8 and met their $75,000 funding goal in one week, thanks in large part to donations from strangers on the Internet.
Several commenters on the GoFundMe page offered to donate a kidney to Sam's dad. Many others thanked the family for sharing their photo of Sam with the world.
"If you hadn't taken a picture of your son and posted it to the Internet so many years ago, no telling how this would have gone," one person wrote in the comments section.
Justin Griner's brother, Evan Bowen, thanked all the GoFundMe donors with a post on his brother's fundraising page.
"Thank you, Internet, for helping my brother out this way!" he wrote. "It's really heartwarming and reassuring to see so many people willing to help another person for no gain of their own (other than the use of an awesome meme)!"
Bowen adds that several of his family members have died from kidney failure over the years.
"I'm eternally grateful and I know my brother and his family are, too," he said.