HOUSTON (AP) — The plight of three Houston children who were orphaned and seriously injured as a result of a deadly car accident earlier this month prompted various celebrities — including Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga — on Wednesday to encourage their fans to donate to a new campaign that is raising money for their care.
Bieber and other celebrities asked their fans via Twitter and Facebook to donate to the "Show Your Hearts" campaign. The money being raised from the campaign launched Wednesday will go to a trust fund that has been set up for the children's care.
"It is a really sad story, but this is an opportunity for me and my friends to do something good for others," Bieber said in a statement. "We can use our influence to do good. We are just doing our part and I hope those kids get something positive out of it."
In its first day, the campaign raised more than $30,000. A Facebook page that had previously been created to highlight the trust fund and publicize fundraising efforts, including bake sales and lemonade stands, that have taken place in the Houston area and around the U.S. has helped raise more than $200,000.
The July 2 accident in West Texas killed the children's parents, Joshua and Robin Berry. Their sons, 8-year-old Aaron and 9-year-old Peter, were permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Their 6-year-old sister Willa suffered several broken bones. The family had been driving back to Houston from a vacation in Colorado when another vehicle crashed into their minivan.
Willa is now at home but her brothers remain hospitalized. After being treated at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, the brothers are now at Shriner's Hospital for Children in Chicago where they are undergoing physical rehabilitation treatment.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian on Wednesday tweeted, "The family needs our help!! Such a tragic story!"
DeGeneres, on her television show's home page, asked fans to "join me in raising awareness and sending love and support to this family."
"We are also so grateful for the amazing efforts from Justin Bieber and his team to pull together the long list of celebrities supporting the kids," said Matt Berry, the children's uncle.
The Houston Rockets on Wednesday also announced a campaign, "10,000 Hugs-to-Help," to raise money that will be donated to the children's trust fund. The campaign will let Houstonians donate money in exchange for a hug from the team's mascot, Clutch.
"We are committed to assisting the various fundraising efforts that continue to be planned around our community in order to help provide Peter, Aaron and Willa with the support they will need in order to overcome the physical pain and devastating emotional trauma they have suffered," said Rockets owner Leslie Alexander.