GREECE, N.Y. -- School bus monitor Karen Klein, who endured relentless taunting by a group of students, finally got a chance Tuesday to thank the man who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars online for her.
An agreement with a national broadcaster prevented Max Sidorov, the Toronto nutritionist, from speaking publicly after arriving at Klein's Greece, N.Y., house.
But her family expressed gratitude for the unexpected windfall: $657,702.
Her son Brian Klein, 46, said that Sidorov is just as surprised as they are about the gift he helped raise.
"He really only thought it would raise $5,000," Brian Klein said about Sidorov. "He was pretty overwhelmed by all of the phone calls and stuff like that, too."
Sidorov, 25, was moved to set up a fundraising page for Klein on the crowd funding site Indiegogo.com early last Wednesday. Although he'd never met Klein, he was compelled to do something for her after watching a YouTube video of the 68-year-old bus attendant being harassed and taunted to the verge of tears by a group of middle school students.
The video has gone viral and Klein, a grandmother of eight who has worked for the Greece Central School District for two decades, has catapulted to media stardom.
With 25 days remaining in the campaign, more than 30,000 people from all over the world have donated an average of about $21 each -- for a total more than $657,000 as of Tuesday evening -- to the vacation fund Sidorov set up. It had an initial goal of $5,000.
A fundraising campaign not set up by Sidorov, but put together to raise money for him as thanks for his efforts in raising money for Klein, has generated $6,610 in donations as of Tuesday evening.
Before Sidorov arrived to meet Klein he said he may use that money to help organizations that campaign against bullying or to start his own anti-bullying organization.
Despite the financial gift, Karen Klein and the family won't change much, Brian said.
"I don't really think there's been much of a change. ...She, (Karen) really doesn't plan on changing that much. She'll donate some of the money, and pay a few bills naturally. But, she really cares about the kids. She's really thinking about going back to work."
By GARY McLENDON
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle