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Tuesday, November 30, 2021


Exploitative or resourceful: ‘Success Kid’ asks for help of Internet


The “Success Kid” meme has succeeded in helping the Griner family raise money for Justin Griner’s recovery. | Internet

Memes: they are an entertaining part of the world, and many have become enamored with them. The multitude of memes that have been created are apt to bring a smile, and maybe a laugh, to anyone who looks at one.

What people fail to realize is that the individuals pictured in these memes are real people, people who have their own problems and who, occasionally, may need a smile of their own. So when a young boy — pictured in the popular “Success Kid” meme — needed help for his father, he used Internet fame to help his case.

According to Medical Daily, 8-year-old Sammy Griner’s father, Justin Griner, was in severe need of kidney transplant. According to Griner’s mother, Laney Griner, her husband had been diagnosed with kidney disease in 2009 and has been on dialysis ever since.

“One can only survive with no natural kidney function and using article kidney functioning for so long,” Laney said to The Daily Dot. “His energy and mood are affected, he can no longer work and he spends 12 hours a week in dialysis clinic. Having been on dialysis for this long greatly increases his risks of developing further complications. The only way to save his life is to get a transplant. There’s no other way around it.”

Justin’s mother passed away from kidney failure, which only added to the urgency. The Griner family — who opened a GoFundMe page for their campaign — were hoping to raise $75,000, according to The Verge. This is where Sammy’s Internet fame came into use.

While many individuals may see this approach as exploiting their son’s fame, this is not the case.

The Internet is a vast place. There have been countless instances in the news of funny videos or heartwarming stories going viral.

More often than not, these viral events have taken place simply to help an individual or group. There is nothing different between those cases and this case, where Sammy Griner’s parents knew his fame would help push their campaign along.

According to The Daily Dot, Sammy is known to most people as “Success Kid,” was brought into fame when his mother posted a picture of him on a beach in 2007 when he was 11 months old. Following this, his picture quickly spread to Myspace and then to Reddit. The picture is commonly used across the Internet, and even on billboards and in commercials.

The Griner’s decision to use their son’s fame to help raise funds for kidney transplant surgery was a wise decision. Since Sammy is so well-known all over the world, any individual who comes across their GoFundMe page will know who the child is, and this will make them more apt to donate.

In fact, the family was able to surpass their initial goal of $75,000.

“We’re the parents of ‘Success Kid’ for goodness sake,” Laney said. “If anyone understands the power, the mass and goodwill of the Internet, it’s those of us lucky to experience it daily.”

The reason the Griner family requires this large amount of money for this surgery is due to the extra funds that will arise after the surgery. The Daily Dot reported that Medicare takes care of the cost for the dialysis and the transplant itself; it is all the additional payments that will fall on the Griners.

It is quite unfortunate that the Griner family — like so many other families — has to deal with raising funds for the surgery, rather than preparing for the surgery itself. Based on the state of Justin’s condition, it is safe to say that the surgery is urgent, and this is why Sammy’s Internet fame is so helpful.

Since the family already surpassed their original monetary goal, it’s only a matter of time until they go on with the procedure. The only important aspect left to take care of is figuring out where this kidney will come from.

Opinion columnist Trishna Buch is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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