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Lending a hand: Crowdfunding helps family give son lymphoma treatment

July 25, 2014 at 10:15 AM ET

The Fleming family was six thousand miles from home when they learned their son had cancer. Who could they turn to for help?

The Internet, of course.

Josh and Joanna Flemming and their three children had left their home in South Carolina in order to do humanitarian work on the island nation of Cyprus. When they left, the whole family was happy and healthy.

Shortly after their arrival, their 3-year-old son Gabriel woke up in the night screaming and they discovered a lump on his leg. After weeks of testing, they learned that Gabriel had lymphoma. At one point were told he wouldn't make it through the night.

Video: The Flemming family was 6,000 miles away from home when their son Gabriel was diagnosed with lymphoma. But when a friend set up a page on crowdfunding site GoFundMe.com, the Flemmings where able to fly their family home and get their son the treatment he needed.

With limited funds and a growing pile of medical bills, the family shifted their focus on getting Gabriel back to the U.S. for proper treatment. To help the Flemings, Joanna's college friend Leigh Essig helped set up a page on crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com, including a goal of $100,000. 

Crowdfunding is used in conjunction with traditional fundraising, allowing campaigns to reach out for support with the help of the Internet.

The family was astonished to see the donations start pouring in, and in early July, they were able to fly their family home and get Gabriel the medical attention he required. 

Leigh Lepore, founder of Crowdfunding Strategy and Information, offered her advice on trusted sites for crowdfunding. Among the sites she mentioned were Crowd Rise, Fundly, GoFundMe, Indiegogo and ModestNeeds.org.

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