Virginia girl uses Twitter to raise money for St. Jude


In addition to completing her Math-A-Thon workbook to earn pledges, middle-school student Bailey Browning uses social media to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (KYLE GREEN/Associated Press)
June 5, 2012

Bailey Browning is a fundraising machine.

She has collected more than $30,000 — and counting — for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the past three years.

That is quite an accomplishment for an 11-year-old girl from Roanoke, Virginia.

“It feels really good to know I am helping someone my age,” said Bailey, who’s finishing sixth-grade at William Byrd Middle School.

Bailey isn’t knocking on doors or setting up a lemonade stand to raise money.

This is the 21st century, so she uses social media and the click of a mouse to solicit donations. Bailey uses Twitter to connect with fans, actors and writers of “Chuck,” a prime-time television series that started in 2007 and ended early this year.

Her tweet “Skip your fancy cups of coffee this week and donate that money to the kids at @StJude!” was shared with more than 5,000 of her followers, including “Chuck” star Yvonne Strahovski and “Chuck” writer Ali Adler. Strahovski and Adler have retweeted a link to Bailey’s fundraising page to their nearly 250,000 Twitter followers.

“Bailey Browning is a truly amazing girl who, at her very young age, has recognized that she has the power to help others in a BIG way,” Australia native Strahovski wrote in an e-mail. “Her fundraising efforts for St. Jude are extraordinary.”

Bailey’s goal for this year was to match the $12,340 she collected last year. She’s doing a lot better than that. So far, she has raised more than $21,100 this year.

Bailey is raising the money for the St. Jude Math-A-Thon, which was started six years ago by Bailey’s kindergarten teacher Joy Watson at Bonsack Elementary. The project started when one of Bailey’s classmates became sick and received treatment at St. Jude, which is located in Memphis, Tennessee.

Bailey’s mom, Sara Browning, said that experience inspires the kids to raise money for St. Jude.

“It’s knowing there was a classmate that went to St. Jude and is a healthy girl today,” she said.

Math-A-Thon participants get donations for each math problem answered in grade-level workbooks provided by St. Jude.

“I just complete the whole book every year,” Bailey said.

Bailey — who prepared a typed sheet of talking points for her newspaper interview, using different fonts and photos of celebrities she has met — knows just how to make her case for donations.

“What’s keeping St. Jude’s open is people’s donations,” Bailey explained.

She said families who can’t pay are not turned away from the hospital. She also praised St. Jude for sharing its research.

Bailey hopes to visit the hospital when she is older. She is interested in pursuing a career in video editing or working at St. Jude.

— Associated Press

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