Emma Mertens was an 8-year-old girl who loved dogs and wanted to spread kindness.
On Nov. 17, she passed away from a brain tumor. However, her story and goal lives on through the organization in her name– Emma Loves Dogs.
“The whole message around it was while Emma was dying, all she wanted to do was spread kindness,” said Geoff Mertens, Emma’s father. “She was a pretty unique little girl.”
The organization started just a few months ago on Aug. 30, which was Emma’s 8th birthday.
So far, around $50,000 has been raised to support no-kill shelters, animal rescues, and funding police K9s.
Now, a fraternity at UW-La Crosse is supporting the cause.
“To see an 8-year-old girl motivate, these are adults now we’re talking about, others just to be kind and do random acts of kindness–this just makes us incredibly happy,” Mertens said.
UWL’s chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha is playing bingo on Instagram this week to raise money.
Members of the fraternity put bingo cards on their Instagram stories and followers can Venmo $1- $5 and claim a square on the board.
The game started Monday morning and continues until Friday, Dec. 6.
The fraternity says while none of their members were able to personally meet Emma, that her story and her life left an impact on them.
“She had 40,000 followers on her Facebook page,” said Chase Lehman, the UW-L Lambda Chi Alpha director of philanthropy. “99.9 percent of them never had a chance to meet her, but they are all impacted by her story, by her willingness to put herself out there and be kind to others.”
Emma’s father has a connection to UW-L, graduating from the University in 2000.
“What a unique family UW-L is and incredibly thoughtful,” Mertens said. “Even when I went there and I’m sure today this is still true, there’s a lot of great people that go to UW-L.”
The family says it’s grateful to the fraternity and knows the fundraiser would have thrilled Emma.
“She would be smiling ear-to-ear, I’ll tell you that,” said Mertens.
Those without Instagram or Venmo accounts can still donate at Emmalovesdogs.org