I reported earlier about a local elementary school that was able to raise badly needed cash by using a crowd funding site. Now thousands of folks are raising money for everything from making movies to paying medical bills. For one San Francisco woman who is fighting cancer, it has done even more -- it has brought hope.
Michelle Shutzer of San Francisco mingles with the horses that roam free at a Sonoma County farm.
"Hey Jody. Hey sweet pea, I don't have any carrots today," said Shutzer to a horse.
She doesn't want to ride. Just to walk among them.
The farm is run by The Flag Foundation, which connects humans with horses for therapy. It has provided Shutzer new strength in her grueling fight against stage four colon cancer. "MacGregor" is a big part of it. The horse is blind, looking for his mate and Shutzer is looking for something too.
"When you're here you are completely transported. There's no disease, there's no unhappiness," said Shutzer.
She has chemotherapy but she's also trying this therapy, naturopathic medicine and nutritional supplements. Her insurance doesn't cover those treatments, but a website did.
Shutzer's friends started a campaign on the crowd funding platform Fundly. The page "Michelle is a Miracle," raised $20,000 in a couple of weeks. Much of it came from folks she doesn't even know, as her friends reached out to their friends on Facebook, and the circle kept growing.
"You'd never think that a click of a button would do this, but really every single dollar that has been contributed to me, it's like someone's heart saying to me, 'I will you to be healed,'" said Shutzer.
Crowd funding is a growing field that lets average citizens raise money for a range of pursuits. Everything from buying school supplies to rebuilding a neighborhood after a hurricane.
An 8-year-old Marin girl raised $55,000 on Fundly to fight slavery of little girls overseas.
One little boy with a lung disease raised $19,000 to buy games for children at a Massachusetts hospital.
And last month 7 On Your Side reported about Sunnyside Elementary School in San Francisco which raised $39,000 so far to make up a $40,000 budget shortfall and avoid losing a classroom teacher.
"We've been doing great. We didn't expect to get this far so quickly," said Rhiana Maidenberg, from the Sunnyside PTA.
The school used a different fundraising platform called GoFundMe. There are other sites too. Kickstarter helps artists and inventors to launch their projects and Indiegogo is a site for global fundraising.
"I can go straight to the need, fund the specific need, I can get a playground built," said David Boyce, the CEO of Fundly.
Boyce is CEO of Fundly. He said Shutzer inspired donors to help save her life.
"It's like a gift. It's indescribable in words," said Shutzer.
And MacGregor, the horse searches blindly for his mate, is an inspiration too.
You can set up your own crowd funding campaign for free, though that is just for setting it up. The websites typically take about five percent of the donations.