The gay Georgia teen whose story of being kicked out by his parents became a viral sensation thanked supporters on Friday as the group that helped him, Lost N Found Youth, celebrated their ongoing efforts during an open house.
Last month, Daniel Pierce was disowned by his family in a violent confrontation as they attempted a "pray away the gay" intervention. Pierce, a 19-year-old college student, recorded the incident in a video that quickly went viral and was viewed by millions of people. Friends also crowd sourced a fundraising campaign for Pierce that collected nearly $94,000. Pierce told 11Alive that he'll donate a portion of the money raised to LGBT groups, including Lost N Found, the Atlanta non-profit that assists homeless gay teens and helped him after the video was published. The group has seen a jump in donations of more than $21,000 since Pierce came out in support of their efforts.
On Friday, Pierce (top photo right) was on hand for Lost N Found's open house and thanked supporters during an event on the steps of a Midtown building the group is working to turn into an expanded shelter for gay teens.
"This has been a crazy ride," Pierce said. "I just want to thank everyone for the kind comments. It's just helping me get through a lot of this." (Watch below)
Volunteers helped clean up the 7,000-square-foot structure earlier this year in the early steps of a $400,000 renovation. On Friday, the group's executive director, Rick Westbrook (top photo left) said fundraising continues and the group hopes to open the facility in 2015.
"There are no words to express what you all have done for us," Westbrook told supporters. "You make this possible for us."
The event also included a performance by gay Atlanta singer Norwood, who is pledging to donate a portion of the proceeds from his Indiegogo campaign to LNF.