Viral GoFundMe campaign raises funds to send Harlem kids to see ‘Black Panther’

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New York native Frederick Joseph knew he wanted to give back to his community in some way and with the highly-anticipated “Black Panther” hitting theaters next month, he decided to try and raise funds to send a few hundred kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem for free.

But what has happened over the last few days since his GoFundMe page launched is something straight out of the pages of Marvel Comics.

Joseph’s original goal of $10,000 has been well surpassed and now stands at around $25,000 and climbing. More than 500 people have donated. The campaign also boasts support from Chelsea Clinton, J.J. Abrams and ESPN’s Jamele Hill.

“I knew I wanted to do something, but wasn’t sure what,” Joseph told ABC News. “My mother mentioned, ‘You’re a marketer, why don’t you put those skills to good use?’ So, I decided to try and do crowd funding.”

Joseph’s original goal was to send 300 kids to the film, but that’s all changed when the campaign went viral. In fact, Harlem Boys & Girls Club executive director Dominique Jones told ABC News that her club services over 1,000 kids of all ages.

The hope is that everyone will be able to go to the film and what’s left over will be donated to the club, Joseph said.

Jones said it speaks volumes when children of color see a strong, positive role model just like them fighting for what’s right. In this film, Chadwick Boseman returns as T’Challa, aka Black Panther, the prince-turned-king-turned-superhero.

“Oprah really spoke to that in her comments this week at the Golden Globes,” Jones said, referring to the media mogul’s story of how seeing Sidney Poitier win the Oscar decades ago inspired her to become the icon she is today. “She saw someone that looked like her and other kids, when they see someone who looks like them, they see the unlimited possibilities … All of our beauty is on display.”

Jones and Joseph are currently in the early stages of planning the big outing for the club’s kids.

“We are just so proud of Frederick and his commitment to the community,” Jones said. “We need more young professionals of color doing this. And they see that it’s fun to give back!”

Joseph said that with the success of the local New York campaign, GoFundMe is working to expand this into other cities.

If this surreal experience has taught him anything, it’s that “If you wanna make a change, just try!”

ABC News and Marvel are both part of parent company Disney.



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