From meme to meaningful: Facebook group raises $57K for York County man in need of liver

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

If Petar Nikolic learned anything from his membership in the Facebook group "A car club where everyone acts like boomers," it's that internet culture and memes can fuel action for the sake of helping others.

That action is just what Nikolic and 30,000 members of the group did to help York County resident Gary Rider reach his financial goals on his way to getting a liver transplant.

The Facebook group, dedicated to car-related memes and "boomer talk," found New Salem resident Rider when he posted in Facebook Marketplace selling an air compressor for a liver transplant.

His post was quickly shared to Nikolic's group, first as a meme.

Then, they found Rider's GoFundMe page — and the group's 30,000 members got serious.

"When you talk about this, it sounds really dumb," said Nikolic, of Seattle, Washington. "But people in the group realized this guy is really in need."

In 24 hours, a flood of donations boosted Rider's fund from $300 to nearly $40,000, reaching the top of the "medical fundraising" category on GoFundMe, as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

In days, a flood of donations boosted Rider's fund from $300 to more than $57,000, reaching the top of the "medical fundraising" category on GoFundMe, as of Sunday afternoon. 

The GoFundMe, started by Rider's daughter Adriana Redshaw in March, has a goal of $50,000.

"It's a testament to the power of the internet and our generation on a whim getting a guy halfway to where he needs to be for a liver transplant," Nikolic said.

Though Redshaw and Rider could not be reached, the two expressed their gratitude in Facebook posts. 

"Thank you to everyone that has donated and shared, I have showed my dad," Redshaw said in a Facebook post. "All of your support and comments mean the world to our family. God bless all of you."

In 24 hours, a flood of donations boosted Rider's fund from $300 to nearly $40,000, reaching the top of the "medical fundraising" category on GoFundMe, as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Rider, who was added to Nikolic's group on Wednesday, has become a celebrity among members. Posts about cars have been abandoned in favor of highlighting the love for Rider. 

One user from Facebook posted a photo of his own air compressor with "We Love Gary" written across the front.

"I'm proud of every one of you," said member Matthew Johnson. "You've restored my faith in people. I love you all."

Individuals can donate to Rider's GoFundMe by visiting https://gofund.me/2816458a.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.