It’s been almost a month since the shocking video of bus monitor Karen Klein enduring vicious harassment from middle school students went viral.
The 10-minute clip showed students from the upstate New York community of Greece insulting and mocking Klein until she was reduced to tears. It was posted to YouTube after one of the participating students put it on his Facebook profile.
International outrage over the incident quickly morphed into financial support after Canadian man Max Sidirov started an Indiegogo fundraiser for Klein with the initial hope of sending her on a vacation.
Within hours, the fundraiser surpassed it’s $5,000 goal, and donations didn’t stop there. After five hours, the campaign raised $16,000. By the next evening, donors had contributed $325,000. Now, almost a month later, the fundraiser has gone beyond anyone’s expectations with an astonishing $682,000.
“I don’t think in my wildest dreams I could have ever dreamed such a number,” Sidorov told Metro Thursday. “I had no idea this was ever going to happen.”
The fundraiser officially closes Friday at midnight. According to Sidorov, Indiegogo will keep 4 percent of the donations, and 3 percent will go toward credit card fees for a combined total that currently amounts to just under $48,000. He wasn’t sure whether taxes would be deducted now or later, but did say plans are in the works that may include Klein being presented with a check for the full amount Monday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
“She is super happy, very excited, overwhelmed,” Sidorov said of Klein, who he has visited several times in the past month. “She is happy this issue can get so much attention.”
The students seen tormenting her in the video later apologized to Klein, who made $15,000 a year as a bus monitor, and she said she did not wish to press charges. She could not be reached for comment Thursday. Sidorov said he isn’t sure what she plans to do with the money.
“She might contribute to charity. She is probably going to retire, maybe buy a new house… I don’t know,” he said.
Sidorov, though, has already figured out his next move. The fundraiser for Klein has served as a launching pad for more projects that “spread love,” as he put it.
Among the many plans Sidorov has for the future, he told Metro he is currently working with Klein to launch free counseling services for bullied kids, along with the bullies themselves.
He is also hoping to create a non-profit TV series called “Love is Moving,” which would feature selfless people who perform good deeds around the world.
Additionally, he said he is planning to develop a non-profit organization called Love Deeder, which serves as a social network for people who need to request deeds and others who are willing to do deeds.
Sidorov has an ambitious plan in mind for funding these projects — another campaign, this one called 7 million acts of love, which he said would be the largest crowd-funded project in history. He hopes to raise $7 million.
“So many opportunities and doors have opened up to me to help the world and change the world,” Sidorov said. I never thought this would happen.”