YouTube Stars to Fundraise on GoFundMe for Special Olympics and Travel to Austria to Cheer on Athletes in 2017 World Winter Games

YouTube stars Burnie Burns and Gavin Free of Rooster Teeth, Matt Santoro, Meredith Foster, and Teala Dunn created GoFundMes to raise funds for Special Olympics athletes and will attend the Games in Austria to cheer them on.

REDWOOD CITY, CA | March 7, 2017 – GoFundMe announced today that five top YouTube stars will be part of the first-ever social fundraising collaboration with Special Olympics on the GoFundMe platform: Burnie Burns and Gavin Free of Rooster Teeth, Matt Santoro, Meredith Foster, and Teala Dunn.

As part of the effort, the five YouTube stars, who have over 44.7 million subscribers among them, will create GoFundMes, sharing the personal stories of these remarkable athletes headed to Austria to help raise funds and awareness.

These YouTubers represent a variety of interests and backgrounds: from Meredith and Teala’s lifestyle and beauty videos to live action series from Rooster Teeth and delving into facts and lists with Matt Santoro. Together, their videos have amassed over 7.2 billion views, and they are ready to introduce their audiences to the incredible accomplishments of Special Olympics athletes.

"I'm thrilled that Rooster Teeth is able to support the Special Olympics in a meaningful way through this GoFundMe initiative," said Burnie Burns, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Rooster Teeth. "Gavin and I are overjoyed to be able to attend the Winter Games and witness these incredible athletes as they fulfill their lifelong dreams."

The YouTubers will attend the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria as guests of Special Olympics to participate in the Opening Ceremony, Unified Talk featuring the Global Youth Leadership Summit, Unified Sports Experiences, and other events that will highlight the abilities of Special Olympics athletes. They will share the experience with their diverse and global audiences.

“Both GoFundMe and YouTube provide platforms for storytelling and community building, so it’s only fitting that we should join forces to promote and support Special Olympics,” said Kelly Galvin, Head of Communications at GoFundMe. “We are inspired by the stories of Special Olympics athletes overcoming obstacles to compete, and we are thrilled that these YouTube stars are lending their influence to this important movement.”

Nearly 2,700 athletes from over 100 nations will compete in nine sports at the Games in Austria this month. But Special Olympics is more than sports—it’s a global movement that builds inclusive communities where all people are valued.

“Every two years our World Games highlight our athletes’ abilities on the fields of competition,” said Kirsten Seckler, Chief Marketing Officer of Special Olympics. “The World Games also provide us a moment in time to raise awareness and change attitudes around the globe about people with intellectual disabilities and the value they bring into communities everywhere. We’re very excited to work with GoFundMe and these YouTubers to help us reach audiences that can support our movement for years to come.”

The GoFundMes created for Special Olympics will highlight inspirational stories of athletes on their journey to the Games while supporting expenses related to travel, training, equipment, coaching, and accommodations, in addition to supporting Special Olympics programming around the world.

“Special Olympics is near and dear to my heart, and I’m thrilled to use GoFundMe to spread the word to Merebears everywhere and raise money for such a worthy cause,” said YouTube star, Meredith Foster.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place March 14 through March 25 in Graz, Schladming, Rohrmoos and Ramsau, Austria. Along with YouTubers, Tubefilter, a leading advocate for the online creator community, and many other Special Olympics guests including Olympians, professional athletes and influencers will be attending the Games to cheer on these amazing athletes from the stands. Additionally, eight Olympic athletes, including Julia Mancuso and Apolo Ohno, shared messages of encouragement to Special Olympic athletes in a video embodying Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s message of hope and victory.

To donate and learn more about their stories, and view all Special Olympic GoFundMes, visit: gofundme.com/specialolympics

About GoFundMe

Launched in 2010, GoFundMe is the world’s largest social fundraising platform, with over $3 billion raised so far. With a community of more than 25 million donors, GoFundMe is changing the way the world gives. Find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners. Click here for a full list of partners. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

About Rooster Teeth:

Rooster Teeth is a pioneering studio responsible for some of the biggest online series in history, such as the award-winning and longest-running web series, Red vs. Blue. They also produce the globally acclaimed animated series RWBY, the first western anime series to be distributed in Japan; the award-winning Rooster Teeth Podcast; and Immersion, a reality format that brings video game theory to the real world. Rooster Teeth has a massive global footprint of more than 30 million subscribers to its YouTube Network, 5 million unique monthly visitors to its RoosterTeeth.com hub and 2 million registered community members. The company was founded in 2003, and is now a subsidiary of Fullscreen Media, a global youth media company that develops online creators and produces multi-platform entertainment experiences. Discover more at RoosterTeeth.com.

About Matt Santoro:

With more than 5.7 million YouTube subscribers and more than 870 million views, YouTube star Matthew Santoro is known for delivering informative videos with trademark humour and personality. Best known for his top ten lists and “50 Amazing Facts” videos, Santoro is changing the way his audience accesses learning and education. Beyond his work as a social media influencer and educator, Matt has used this voice to be an active Global Citizen, prevent drunk driving with the NHTSA, and now he has teamed up with the Special Olympics to support the competitors as an Honored Guest. As his first term working with the Special Olympics, Matt is excited to be a part of a worldwide movement that honors these athletes and promotes an inclusive global community.

About Meredith Foster:

Internet and YouTube sensation Meredith Foster, a California native, is a self-taught digital producer and entrepreneur, creating lifestyle content for her channel since 2009.  With a combined digital audience of over 9.8M followers, Meredith has worked with top media and production companies as well as digital and traditional platforms. Meredith has teamed with leading consumer brands including Benefit, Clarisonic, State Farm, Motorola, Disney Style and more. In 2015, Meredith headlined the “Girls Night In” tour traveling to 22 top U.S. markets. She’s previously appeared on Disney’s Bizaardvark, the cover of Tiger Beat and been featured in J-14, JustJared Jr., The Today Show, Access Hollywood and more.

About Teala Dunn:

Teala Dunn is an extremely talented actress and YouTube personality, with a rapidly growing global fan base. Teala has grown her Instagram to over 1.9 million followers, her Twitter to over 1.24 million followers, and her You tube to over 1.9 million subscribers. Her videos cover the beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and comedy verticals, displaying her bubbly and fun personality. Her audience is over 80% Gen Z (13-21), and she is one of the most commanding voices on digital for that demographic.