(WHAM-TV) -- Max Sidorov watched the YouTube video of a bus monitor being bullied by middle school students. Like many he was moved to do more.
He started a fundraiser to collect enough money to send the bus monitor on a vacation.
“I just want to focus on the good that can come of this,” says the 25-year-old nutritionist from Toronto. Sidorov says he too had been bullied.
He never thought that like the YouTube video his fundraiser would also go viral.
“I had no idea that I was going to raise anywhere near this amount,” he says. “Maybe a few thousand, maybe send her somewhere nice. But this is enough to let her retire!”
The site “Love for Karen” has raised more than $331,000. But it’s also raised some questions. The vacation fund was started without Karen Klein’s knowledge.
In response to viewer questions, 13WHAM News is taking a closer look at the fundraising effort, which is listed on the parent website Indiegogo. Indiegogo has been around for four years now and is a legitimate way for people touting all kinds of projects to receive funding from strangers.
“I can’t say this is average,” says CEO Slava Rubin of the huge response for Karen Klein. “This is special because it’s really captivated people. “This is a 60-year-old woman who’s very honest (with) high integrity. A very good person just trying to do her job,”
Anyone can start a fundraising thread on the website. But there are checks and balances and constant monitoring for fraud.
“We’ve verified everything necessary to make sure this money will wind up in her (Klein’s) hands at the end of the day,” says Rubin.
Max Sidorov says he has received lots of questions because initial contributors had trouble with PayPal – a payment option. He says he wanted to do something immediately and started the fundraiser in his own name until he could reach Klein and her family.
Klein’s daughter Amanda Klein Romig is now involved with the fundraiser and the account has been changed over to the family.
“I don’t want the money, I don’t want the recognition” says Sidorov. “I just had an idea and ran with it.”
By Thursday afternoon, more than $331,000 had been raised. Most are small donations-under $100 dollars. In fact more than 1500 people have contributed.
“I usually don’t donate to causes but this broke my heart so I consider it money very well spent,” says a man named Donald. “In my mind you are everybody’s Grandma. May God Bless you,” says Katherine.
Karen Klein is shocked by the support. “Oh my God it’s unbelievable,” she exclaimed when told about the amount that had been raised. Jokingly she said maybe she can use it to buy new carpeting or pay for her car.
But she is not focused on the money. She has spoken with Max Sidorov and told him so. But he says that was never the focus.
“I just want people to focus on the good,” says Sidorov. “Spread the message about bullying. Be kind and generous to other people.”