(NEW YORK) — A bullied bus monitor finally got to meet the anonymous benefactor who began the online website that has raised more than $659,000 for her.
Karen Klein, 68, welcomed Max Sidorov into her Greece, N.Y., home Tuesday night.
“Great. Great. Nice guy, nice guy,” Klein said. “I’m very appreciative.”
Klein became a public symbol for abusive bullying after a video was posted online showing four seventh-grade boys hurling taunts and crude jokes at her. The video was seen more than two million times on YouTube.
Sidorov, who is from Toronto, said he was bullied once, too. After seeing the video, he said, he had to do something.
“I know how it feels. Nobody should have to go through that, ever,” he said.
Sidorov set up a website asking for donations to send Klein on a vacation with his original goal set at $5,000. In its first 24 hours, the fundraising campaign — on Indiegogo.com, a website that helps advocates raise money for various causes — raised $125,000.
More than 7,500 signatures have accumulated on a Change.org petition urging President Obama to allow Klein to receive the donations tax-free, even though the money is not taxable.
“I didn’t think anyone expected anything like this,” Sidorov said.
Klein, a grandmother of eight, one with Down syndrome, said she will donate part of the money to support research.
“I almost feel like I don’t deserve it,” Klein said. “They should be sending their donations to other people that have more problems than I do.”
Most of all, Klein said she is grateful to Sidorov for turning something painful into something beautiful.
“My wrist band says be a buddy, not a bully,” Klein said.
Sidorov said, “That’s right. If everyone gave each other support and kindness, none of this would ever happen anywhere.”
The fundraising campaign will remain open for 24 more days.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Theodore Schleifer, CNN
Heather Kelly, CNN
Dal Kalsi, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com