Seven years ago, Laney Griner of Jacksonville, Florida, took a photo of her then-11-month-old son, Sammy, clutching a tiny fistful of sand and looking pretty determined about whatever he was up to. (Mom says he was about to shove it in his mouth.) Laney thought it was just another picture for the family photo album. Instead, the photo launched her son into years of Internet immortality. More recently, it would help raise much-needed funds when his father needed a kidney transplant.
Laney recently told ABC's "Good Morning America" that a couple years after she posted that photo of Sammy on her Flickr page, she saw that it was being used for an "I hate sandcastles" meme, which she didn't particularly like. Later, Sammy's photo was used to launch the hugely popular "Success Kid" memes that Laney now loves. (Okay, we all do.) "Now, it's just out there," she tells "Good Morning America." "At least it's positive." And, she wonders, "Without that happening, how … could I get this recognition about my husband's kidney transplant?"
"Good Morning America" reports that Laney's husband, Justin Griner, first learned he was suffering from kidney failure before Sammy was born. In 2009, she tells The Daily Dot, he had complete kidney failure. After six years of dialysis at the exhausting pace of four hours a day, three days a week, they began to worry about complications and think about transplant. In April, Laney decided to start a GoFundMe site to see if the family could raise money to help them pay for costs associated with the transplant surgery, ongoing care and medications. Family and friends offered to donate a kidney, but initially there was no match.
While Laney says she was initially hesitant about using her son's famous photo to help the family's cause, she later decided it would likely be their best shot at finding the help they needed. And she was right. Within the first five days, "Good Morning America" reports about 300 donors had lined up to help.
And last week, the family's biggest wish came true, according to the show, after they received a call that a matching kidney had been found for Justin. Hours later, he was at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, undergoing kidney transplant surgery. It was a success. And Justin tells "Good Morning America" that after Sammy was first told about his dad's new kidney and the about the role he'd played in helping him get it, he burst into tears. "It's been his whole life to reach that goal line," Justin Griner says. "I think he was overwhelmed."
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