PHOTO: Michael Stolzenberg (left), 13, of Weston, Fla., is a quadruple amputee. He and his brother Harris Stolzenberg, 17, are raising money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
He and his brother Harris Stolzenberg, 17, are raising money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Courtesy Harris Stolzenberg and ABC News
(USA TODAY) -- Florida high school senior, 13-year-old quadruple amputee brother pledge to raise money for Boston Marathon victims.
Harris Stolzenberg will run the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Not to fulfill a lifelong dream, not because he's an avid runner, but to honor his little brother and hundreds of strangers.
On April 15, consecutive explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line killed three and wounded more than 170 people. Many lost limbs and required amputation surgery.
Stolzenberg, a 17-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., knows what it's like when a loved one's life is traumatically changed forever. His brother Michael, 13, is a quadruple amputee. Back in 2008, Michael needed both his hands and feet surgically removed in order to save his life from a skin infection that led to a bacterial infection, septic shock and gangrene.
Upon seeing the gruesome images from the bombings, Harris, who will be a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall, decided that he would raise money throughout his marathon training for those who suffered amputations from the explosions.
To start this project, Harris did what any 17-year-old might do. He went on Facebook.
He sent a message to fellow Class of 2017 MIT students, telling them what he wanted to do and if anyone could help create a website.
He got responses from Corey Walsh from California and Karan Kashyap from Texas - three new friends from different time zones. They created a post on imgur.com, a Facebook page, and a website.
From there, social media took its course.
As of Wednesday evening, mikeysrun.com has raised over $13,000, and the site has only been live since April 22. The goal is $1 million.
"When I told my mom about it, she thought I was crazy," Harris said.
She thought $1,000 was a lofty goal, but Harris thought otherwise.
"Mom, I think we have a really good story here," he responded. "We can help a lot of people, so let me try."
Mikey's Run has partnered with The Scott Rigsby Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to "inspire, inform and enable individuals with loss of limb, mobility, to live a healthy, active lifestyle."
Harris looked into several different foundations, like The One Fund Boston, but wanted to focus on something more personal to the family, which was dealing with amputations and prosthetics.
Harris said he plans to raise money at least until next year's marathon.
"The goal, if this gets big enough, is not to stop at the Boston Marathon," he said. "We can expand to help other amputees who don't get the recognition and help they need. This could form into a [non-profit] down the road and help a lot of other people."
This initiative has already been shared by the Internet masses. Harris says friends from all over - those in high school and in college - are sharing the website and Facebook pages with their friends who are sharing it with their friends. And major news networks - CNN, ABC and ESPN - have contacted him, too.
Michael spread the word the old-fashioned way.
"In the morning our whole grade comes and we have announcements so I announced about the website and what we want to do," Michael said. "All my friends want to be a part of it. I've gotten a whole bunch of them, they are so proud of me."
Harris said he's been contacted by runners from all over the country, some offering to sponsor him in the Boston Marathon, some wanting to make t-shirts that they can wear in different races to support the victims.
This is truly social media at its finest.