How many people can say that social media helped to save their life? Four-year-old Eliza O’Neill can. The young girl used the online fundraising website GoFundMe.com to raise money for a life-saving treatment. So far, Eliza has broken the record for the most money ever raised using the website, but with her life on the line, the courageous little girl isn’t quite finished yet.
At first glance, Eliza O’Neill looks like any average 4-year-old girl. She runs around and plays with her 7-year-old brother, Beckham. So, it’s hard to imagine that within a year she may lose the ability to speak, and in two years, she could be wheelchair bound, The Huffington Post reported. O’Neill has Sanfilippo syndrome, also known as MPS III. It’s rare, occurring in about one in every 70,000 children, according to the National MPS society.
The disease is fatal and most people with the condition rarely live beyond their teens. But researchers are confident they have found a cure for the condition in animals. In trials, mice with the disease were completely cured, The Huffington Post reported. Unfortunately, there is a major lack of funding for human trials. O'Neill needs $2.5 million to fund her trial.
This is where you come in. In just eight months, O’Neill’s GoFundMe page has raised $946,000, vastly surpassing the previous record on the site by more than $100,000. More than 20,000 people have donated to O’Neill’s cause, mostly in increments of $10 and $20, The Huffington Post reported. "It's all from extraordinary people donating whatever they can afford. People have reached out saying that they're out of a job but they want to donate $10," O’Neill’s father Glenn O’Neill told People magazine. The money will allow Eliza and other children with her same condition to receive the life-saving treatment they need.
The recent online campaign #bringbackourgirls, received a backlash from critics who felt that “standing there holding a sign does not bring the girls back,” MSNBC reported. “Cheap hashtag activism” has been mocked as an ineffective way to approach a problem. O’Neill’s story and her #SavingEliza hashtag, is an ideal example of how the Internet, when used properly, can be used a tool of change. Social media is an ideal way for patients with rare conditions to find hope for a cure. A recent study found that 84 percent of all patients for two pediatric disease trials were found through social media. O’Neill’s viral video and the #SavingEliza campaign helped to spike the donations from $40,000 to more than $80,000, Yahoo News reported.
If you want to help save Eliza O’Neill’s life and become a part of history along the way, you can donate to her cause at GoFundMe Saving Eliza.