(GoFundMe / Nikki Smith)

A woman who started a GoFundMe to take her daughters on a Disney trip is claiming she’s been traumatized by internet abuse over the fundraiser. Nikki Smith, who lives in Bristol, England, turned to GoFundMe in February to help her realize her daughters’ shared dream of a Disney trip to Florida. Her fundraiser went viral, with thousands of people all over the world leaving nasty comments about how greedy and spoiled Smith was. Now she has the last laugh, as she’s raised over $8,500 in donations.

Smith started the GoFundMe page because she felt she’d never be able to save the money on her own in time for her kids to enjoy it. “I work 2 nights a week at our local hospital as this is all I am able to do because of childcare and contract hours,” she explained on her page. She said her girls love watching videos of children being surprised by Disney trips, and she longed to do something similar for them. Smith said she thought GoFundMe was a website where users can “raise money for anything,” and that people were using the site “for funding hopes, dreams and wishes…even raising money for breast enhancements and cars.” She was stunned by the hate she received, stating, “I never meant to upset anyone, I haven’t hurt anyone and I was only trying to fulfill my children’s dreams.”

After initially removing the page when the backlash started, Smith re-posted it because she felt the media was twisting her words.

“I feel this to be the only way I can speak out,” she wrote on the resurrected GoFundMe page. Smith says that despite the trauma she’s experienced from internet trolls, she’s been heartened by the kindness other people have shown her. Ironically, she credits the nasty messages with kickstarting her fundraiser. “The literally THOUSANDS of hateful messages I received on social media vilifying me managed to capture the attention of kinder hearts, and then the donations began to start coming in in a significant way.”

Smith says that the donors to her campaign have been kind, and mentions a journalist who said he was appalled by her terrible treatment in the press. “I am ever so grateful for every donation, large or small, and this kindness has helped restore my faith in humankind.” Smith plans to take her daughters on that Disney trip in the summer of 2018.