Gregg and Brittiny Peters had no idea that what started out as a crazy way to pay their children’s medical bills 10 days ago would soon make them international celebrities.
At 1 a.m. Friday, the Gainesville family sold everything they own on eBay to Douglas and Donya Blair of Fort Worth, Texas, for $20,000.
It wasn’t long before the Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and even the "Tyra Banks Show" were calling to get an interview with a family willing to part with all of its material possessions to take care of each other.
"That’s one of the things that has been very eye-opening for us, is what a materialistic world this is that a family selling their things — especially with very good reason, to help their sick kids — would make national news," Brittiny Peters said.
After learning she won the bidding, Donya Blair called Brittiny Peters at 10:30 a.m. Friday with a surprise.
"We are so happy, honored, to be able to place the bid and win this auction, and we are even more honored to tell you that our sole purpose in purchasing these items was to able to give them back to you as a gift," Peters said Blair told her.
Peters was overwhelmed by their kindness.
"I still couldn’t find the words to say to her," she said. "I told her I want to say ‘thank you,’ there’s a lot more I want to say, but I don’t have the words."
The Blairs’ eagerness to help her family inspired Brittiny Peters to do the same for others.
"We’re going to be spending the next few days really working on a plan, my husband and I, on how we can ... take the kindness that’s been shown to us ... and reciprocate and pass on that kindness, and use some of the smaller items and monetary donations we made and pass this on to other people and help other people," she said.
Aside from the media attention, Brittiny Peters said she has received donations and e-mails from people in all 50 states and 11 countries who were inspired by their story.
"We’ve had over 2,000 donations," she said. "Most of them have been $1, $2. People say, ‘this is all I have, but you’ve inspired me and I want to give it to you.’ We’ve gotten e-mails from people who don’t have anything to give who want to say ... ‘y’all have inspired us to make some changes.’"
The Peters have three children, two with special needs. Daughter Ayla, 7, has Still’s disease, a form of rheumatoid arthritis; 2-year-old Noah is autistic.
Brittiny Peters, a stay-at-home mom, said she and Gregg realized they needed to do something drastic or they would not have enough money to give their children the best medical care.
She said one of the most immediate needs is therapy for Noah, who goes to different types of therapy several times a week.
"We weren’t going to live without all our stuff forever," she said. "We were just sacrificing those things for the time being because my son will be three in April and he has autism. Anyone who knows about autism knows that early intervention is the key to him reaching his maximum potential as an adult. ... We’re willing to sacrifice those things for the time being so that he could get what he needs now."
Brittiny Peters said she plans to donate a portion of their earnings to Autism Speaks and the Still’s Disease Foundation to fund research for both incurable diseases.
Many people have questioned how they could consider giving away money that they need so badly, but Peters said that she thinks it wouldn’t be right to keep all of it.
"The outpouring of kindness has been truly amazing," Brittiny Peters said. "We’d be pretty selfish people if we held on to that."