Sanai Graden, known on TikTok as @hustlanani, is a D.C.-based college student studying fashion at the University of California, Berkeley, who is in town for an internship. While recording a trip to the grocery store, a stranger approached her and asked for tea.
Graden stated in the video, which has now gone viral with over 20 million views: “I just didn’t want to leave him with just tea. I wanted to leave him with more so like I tried to help him as much as I could. So that’s why you saw me running around all over DC. He just reminded me of my uncle, so I’m like ‘unc’ and then naturally he just real cool, and real respectful and I’m just like ‘okay I like you’.”
Instead of accepting food at first, the stranger, identified as Alonzo, told Graden that he was in severe pain and needed medicine immediately. Graden soon learned that the man was homeless and battling prostate cancer.
In a five-hour journey throughout D.C., dragging her shopping cart beside the man’s suitcase, their search for the right drugs brought them to various CVS shops before they found his prescriptions.
Her request to launch a GoFundMe campaign to support Alonzo was met with support from online users who were touched by the incident. Graden launched the GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Alonzo’s medical expenses, housing, clothes, and shoes. She felt inspired by the outpouring of support she received after sharing her journey on TikTok.
“He was in pain, it was really hard to watch and I’m like no I want to post this. Let’s donate, let’s do something,” Graden encouraged. “Let’s see where this can go, my original goal was ten thousand dollars.”
Now over $400,000 has been raised for the GoFundMe that highlights Alonzo’s struggles—which he shared with Graden—such as homelessness, a lack of family support, and his continuous fight with prostate cancer.
It also emphasizes the difficulties Graden had in finding a hotel for Alonzo because he didn’t have any sort of identification when she discovered he was staying at a church. They were nevertheless able to check in due to their relentless attempts.
Since the GoFundMe funds aren’t yet accessible, Graden told WUSA9 that she has been using her credit cards to help buy goods for him. She revealed that Alonzo had been without a house for seven years and had just learned he had prostate cancer a week ago. She paid his phone bill for up to a year and remained in touch with him using the phone she gave him. He now has health insurance, and she hopes to help him overcome cancer.
Graden stressed that every gift, whether monetary or through simple involvement with her video, is critical to positively impacting Alonzo. Other people have contacted her, offering assistance from a local dentist and other resources.
Going ahead, the philanthropist announced that she intends to make a wish list on Amazon for necessities. It will be open to those who want to contribute or donate resources. She also asked individuals who knew of additional resources that could help the cause to send a direct message on TikTok.
She now hopes that others will reconsider and perform more acts of kindness, stating, “Be kind, because you never know somebody’s story. Everyone has a story and if I would’ve stay there and judged him on how he looked, none of this would’ve ever happened.”