Sammy and his parents Laney and Justin Griner were able to turn Sammy’s unexpected notoriety into a campaign that had support pouring in from around the world.
Success Kid turned into #SuccessKidney as the Griners launched a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for the anti-rejection medication Justin needed for a transplant.
“If you don’t have the money and you can’t get your medications they won’t give you a transplant, because your body will reject the kidney without the medications,” said Justin in an interview with First Coast News.
The Jacksonville, Fla. family set up a Go Fund Me page in April 2015 in hopes of raising USD$75,000. They raised over USD$100,000.
Next week marks one year since Justin’s successful transplant.
Comments from some backers noted how they wanted to help the boy in “the brilliant picture” to have a happy childhood with his father.
“#SuccessKid rocks and I want him to have a successful full childhood with his daddy there for him,” wrote a backer named Sara Varela.
Another backer recalled how Sammy’s photo helped her father through his recovery after a heart attack.
Nine-year-old Sammy was 11-months-old when mom Laney snapped a photo of him eating sand on the beach and posted it online.
The determined expression on Sammy’s face combined with his fistful of sand turned him into a viral sensation.
“I feel like he actually embodies that title that he just kind of happened to get,” said Laney.