PHOTOS – ‘Success Kid’ is All Grown Up… and His Dad Needs a Kidney

April 15, 2015

kid5We know him as ‘Success Kid’ – the toddler with a clenched fist and look of satisfaction who’s become the internet’s most positive meme.

But now Sam Griner is eight years old and is using his online fame to help out his sick dad.

His mother, Laney Griner from Jacksonville, Florida, set up a GoFundMe page to raise the $75,000 her husband, Justin, needs for the kidney transplant and years of subsequent medications.

‘Please help us reach our goal so that Justin may get the pre-treatments and transplant he desperately needs,’ she wrote on the fundraising page.


‘His mother died from this disease, please help us write a different story for Justin and his son, Sam.’

By Tuesday afternoon, the page had raised more than $38,000 of the goal.

Although Griner initially decided against using the notoriety of ‘Success Kid’ to help raise funds, she eventually spoke to The Daily Dot about the campaign because of her fears for her husband.

Justin, 39, discovered his kidneys were failing before the birth of their son and he now spends about four hours a day, three days a week undergoing dialysis, Mrs Griner told ABC News.

He is unable to work and never has energy, she said. The longer he is on the dialysis, the higher the chance that he could develop complications.

‘Six years on dialysis is getting to be a long time,’ she said. ‘It’s wearing on him.’


The funds will supplement the money Medicare puts towards the procedure. The family will also need $12,000 for just the first year of medications, although he’ll be on drugs for the rest of his life.

It is also not yet clear where the kidney will come from and so the family is also using the GoFundMe page to ask strangers to see if they could be a match.

So far, no friends or family members have proved a match, she told The Daily Dot, and getting on a list for a deceased donor can take at least five years.

‘We certainly prefer a living donor because the prognosis seems to be much better,’ she said. ‘We’re certainly not opposed [to waiting for a donor], but obviously, the sooner the better for us all.’

To help raise awareness about her husband’s need for a kidney, she turned to her son for help.

Mrs Griner had snapped the photo of Sammy on the beach when he was 11 months old. The image looks as if he is punching the air – but she said he was actually about to put sand in his mouth.


She put the photo on her Flickr page in 2007 and two years later, she noticed that it was being used for memes before eventually becoming the beloved ‘Success Kid’ meme around 2010.

His face has featured on billboard, TV commercials and t-shirts, which Mrs Griner called both ‘weird’ and ‘awesome’.

‘By now, it’s just out there,’ she said. ‘What am I going to do? At least it’s positive. Without that happening, how much could I get this recognition about my husband’s kidney transplant?’

There are more than 100,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the U.S., and of the 29,531 kidney transplants carried out last year, 23,715 were from living donors, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

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