Downtown Birmingham snow picture generates over $20,000 in donations for man battling cancer
BIRMINGHAM - AL —
For many of us, one photograph from last week's winter storm has become etched in our minds.
A. J. Fennell, a student in UAB's school of dentistry, snapped the photo on his iPhone. It's beautiful, and he could have sold it so many people wanted it.
Instead, he turned the picture into a fundraiser for a friend -- a dental school resident, Dr. Ned Wikle who is battling lung cancer.
That picture so far has raised more than $20,000 for Wikle and his family.
Wikle is speechless by what has happened.
He and his family moved back home temporarily to Tupelo, Mississippi, which is where he will begin his chemotherapy treatment.
Wikle knows what lies ahead will be difficult. But, he considers the financial support coming out of this picture and so many people willing to give a blessing.
"It's just amazing what's in people's hearts, to come together and get behind a cause like this. It's been such a blessing to us," says Wikle. "It's just amazing the positive energy you get when you're going through something like this."
Wikle received an e-mail from his friend A. J. Fennell two weeks ago. The e-mail simply said, he had tweeted the photo of a snowy downtown Birmingham to James Spann.
The rest is history.
James retweeted, and suddenly everyone wanted the picture.
Fennell wouldn't sell it. He did something better. He created a fundraiser for Wikle on the Fundly website.
"It's been incredible," says Fennell. "The response that everyone has contributed and donated, and all the prayers lifted up for (Wikle). It's absolutely amazing."
Initially, Fennell had hoped to raise $1,000. The campaign has now garnered more than $20,000.
It's still growing.
Wikle says, "We're looking at this as God's provision for our family, during the journey. I'm kind of, 'both hands receiving' the gifts that people are giving us."
When he looks back at the events of the last two weeks, Wikle offers this message to all those who helped make this possible.
"From (my wife) Dana and I, my family, my kids. Thank you, it's been a true blessing. And our prayer is that you will be blessed as we have been blessed."
Fennell says that he will keep the site up and going as long as people are making donations. Right now the goal on the Fundly site is $50,000.