A transgender student at The University of Alabama found overnight online fame and support after starting a GoFundMe to raise tuition funds after losing the financial support of his parents.
After recently telling his family he plans to pursue medical transition, Daniel “Danny” Sisson, an 18-year-old philosophy major from Raleigh, North Carolina, was told by his parents that he would have to pursue this on his own and stopped all financial support they were giving him.
Less than one semester into his college career, Sisson found himself cut off financially from his parents, leaving him searching for a way to pay for all of his expenses. While he receives an academic scholarship, it does not cover his entire tuition, room and board and other college expenses.
A friend suggested that Sisson start a GoFundMe page to raise the money. He posted his campaign online around 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, hoping that the contributions would reach his goal in time to pay his tuition, which is due by Dec 11.
Later that night, Sisson refreshed the campaign page to check the fundraiser’s progress and was left speechless.
In less than eight hours, his campaign had received over $10,000 in donations.
Sisson’s campaign was shared across the internet by friends and total strangers, trending on the GoFundMe homepage and gaining donations from nearly 100 people. Contributions have ranged from $5 to $5,000, with most donations ranging between $10 and $50.
As of Sunday night, the Sisson’s page has reached $12,530 in donations from 135 people, named and anonymous.
Sisson is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, taking the time to thank each of his contributors personally.
“A bunch of people who I never even thought would even take the time to read [the page] donated and they didn’t have to,” Sisson said. “So it was really just people doing it out of the kindness of their own hearts.”
Supporters have left comments for Sisson with words of encouragement such as “Keep your chin up. My son is mid-transition, and it does get easier. PS I’d love to give more, but I have 3 kids in college right now,” “Roll Tide, kid. People are here for you,” “I don’t know you but best of luck on your journey!” and “You’re loved and supported.”
Cora Kangas, Sisson’s girlfriend, a freshman majoring in Italian and English, has been his biggest supporter and said that through this experience, Sisson has still remained the “generous and humble guy” he was when they first met on campus.
“It was really stressful for a while, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned through this whole thing is he is literally one of the most amazing people ever because he’s going through all of this stuff and dealing with these problems, but he’s still like ‘What can I do for you?’ and still trying to make sure that I’m okay,” Kangas said. “It’s just one of those things where you don’t always know how amazing someone is until you have to go through the hard times with them.”
Now Sisson is focused on finishing his freshman year, getting his degree and using this opportunity to help others who have experienced similar situations.
“I definitely want to devote a lot of time to helping other people who are in the position that I’m in,” Sisson said. “After getting all of this really overwhelming support, it matters so much to me to give back to others and pay it forward.”
Sisson has now updated the page to cover his education expenses and some expenses related to his medical transition.
Those interested in donating to Sisson’s campaign can go to https://www.gofundme.com/f2sny6-dannys-college-fund.