Rutgers student surpasses Dance Marathon fundraising goal after video goes viral
When it comes to fundraising money, things that generally come to mind are canning, bake sales or posting excessively on social media to raise awareness. But Anthony Mollica raised more than $500 under very different circumstances.
The School of Arts and Sciences junior woke up Wednesday with money pouring into his Rutgers University Dance Marathon (RUDM) fundraising page, and he said he looked at the names and did not know who the donors were.
Mollica, a captain for the Dancer Relations Team of RUDM, told his friends about all these donations and that is when he found out — an old video of him dancing had ended up on the front page of Reddit.
Reddit, known as “the front page of the internet,” is one of the web’s biggest sites, an online social media community where users post and vote on content. The more “upvotes” content receives, the more likely the post will move to the front page, where the most popular links are shown.
Mollica’s video was upvoted nearly 25,000 times, which is how it landed on the front page — for the whole internet to watch.
The 32-second video, titled “Anthony’s Fundraising Video,” is an edited clip of him shaking his hips and making awkward and funny faces.
Although this video blew up just this week, the video has been on his Facebook for a year, he said.
“I actually was filming a segment for a TV show for RU-tv and I was waiting for the director in the control room to hit record. Little did I know, he was recording. He then decided to make this funny video on his own time afterward, and we shared it on Facebook last March,” Mollica said.
He said his friends went back to his old Facebook content and just started liking old posts, and the video happened to resurface. He used that opportunity to link his RUDM fundraising link and raise money.
His family and friends reacted, giving the post more than 100 likes and donating money to him. But then, there was a plot twist, he said.
“I wake up … to a bunch of emails that I was given donations and I looked at the names and had no idea who they were,” he said. “At first I was confused and I thought it was my friends joking around and donating money under fake names.”
Mollica, who has never used Reddit, said it felt cool to be on the front page of the site because people are donating to his page, but since he has no idea who posted the video to the site or Youtube, he feels a bit uncomfortable.
“I wish it was just something for my friends and I to enjoy and not this whole internet thing,” he said. “I wish people would just donate and not make memes and other edits of my video. I don’t like that people are now profiting off of mine and my friend’s work.”
But people are donating to Mollica. He said before the video went viral, he was at about $585. All day Wednesday he was receiving donations and has now reached $1179.
“My goal was $1000 and Reddit helped me surpass that,” he said. “It’s amazing to see people supporting a cause they may know little or nothing about. I feel so grateful for all of the donors. It’s all For The Kids and it’s really cool.”
Mollica said he is happy and humbled that the video helped him get to where he is and people are donating and has raised his new goal to a “very ambitious $5,000.”
Ben Peraria, who edited the video and originally posted it to Facebook last year, said although he is happy Mollica was able to raise money for children, it was illegally taken from his Facebook, uploaded to Youtube and then monetized.
Peraria, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, has put in a copyright claim ordering the video be taken down, but the person who uploaded the video refuses to take it down or demonetize it, he said.
“I love that Anthony became a meme and that it helped raise money for his cause, but I refuse to allow others to illegally profit off of my work,” he said.
He said as a content creator, nothing is worse than having hard work be taken illegally and profit on it.
“What this person did is clearly infringing on copyright law, and the fact that he or she is using the charity as reasoning for why it’s okay is disheartening,” Peraria said.
But he thinks good came out of it. He said he is glad that a random goofy video he made more than a year ago helped raise money for a great cause, he just wishes it happened in a different and legal way.
Since the post has gone viral, the video has since been taken off of Reddit and YouTube due to copyright infringement, the sites say.
“For our sake and getting the true recognition it deserves, I want it taken down,” Mollica said. “Ben has the rights to it and that’s the way it should be.”
He loves the exposure the video has given RUDM and said he hopes people are interested in getting more involved, but not at the expense of losing the rights to the video.
“Thank you to everyone who donated,” he said. “And whoever posted this, please tell me who you are.”
Sophie Nieto-Munoz is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and Italian. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. You can find her on Twitter @snietomunoz for more.