YouTube sensation inspired Bayou Gauche boy to help homeless

Landon Epsey (right) with father Ryan, mother Nicole and brothers Liam and Logan.

“Mr. Beast” videos spurred 11-year-old to pay it forward

Jimmy “Mr. Beast” Donaldson is known for his creative stunts and highly charitable acts that he features on his YouTube channel, and in doing so he’s inspired one Bayou Gauche boy to do his best to follow in his footsteps.

Eleven-year-old Landon Espey, a student at St. Charles Borromeo in Destrehan, recently started a GoFundMe page with intentions of helping the homeless, and cited Mr. Beast as his chief inspiration in doing so.

“He’s given away over a million dollars in his career,” Espey said. “He started out with a gaming channel, but then he started doing these videos where he was giving away money, and it got a lot of views and great reactions. It made me want to do something myself to help someone out.”

Aside from the rather interesting name — derived from his original online handle “MrBeast6000” — Mr. Beast’s generosity is both highly charitable and often random. He has given thousands of dollars to the homeless in his videos, which have also seen him tip a pizza delivery man $10,000 and sums of $10,000, $50,000 and $100,000 to streamers on the platform Twitch, some random, some simply because they were his “favorites.” In another, he gave a friend $40,000 with the “challenge” to spend it all within an hour, that spree featured on YouTube. Much of the money Donaldson gives away comes from sponsors.

The videos have racked up a staggering number of views, which has helped propel Mr. Beast to garner nearly 14 million subscribers and 1.5 billion total video views.

Espey took note himself, and embodies the ideal of “pay it forward” as someone inspired by the YouTube sensation.

While Mr. Beast supplied the spark, the holiday season spurred Espey into acting on his ideas.

“We wanted to find something that would benefit them the most and that would last.” – Landon Epsey

“The homeless don’t get things for Christmas like all of us. I wanted to do something to make them feel good and really feel normal,” Espey said.

He asked his family to share his GoFundMe page, titled “Food for the Homeless.”While the title reflects his initial idea, it’s evolved from planning to use donations to purchase meals to using the funds raised to put together care packages for those in need. Espey plans to include items like toiletries, vitamins and granola bars, among others.

“At first I wanted to go to a restaurant and buy meals for them, but we talked about it and that’s just one meal. We wanted to find something that would benefit them the most and that would last,” Espey said.

His mother, Nicole, said she was extremely proud to see her son think of others.

“Especially during the Christmas season, when a lot of kids are thinking about all the things they’re getting, it makes me proud to see him think of a way to help someone and follow through on it,” she said. “I thought it was just something he was thinking about, but then he really stepped up with the follow through.”

She added her son has always shown a big heart.

“Usually when he sees someone in need, he wants us to find a way to help. Usually just giving things, but he’ll also give comfort,” Nicole said. “I remember something was worrying my mom, and he told her ‘I can pray for you.’ She said she’d like that, but then he said, ‘No, I can pray for you right now.’ That was a proud moment for me.”

She said she’d like to think his intentions are at least in some way a part of what she and her husband have instilled in him from an early age.

Lending a helping hand

  • 11-year-old Landon Espey of Bayou Gauche said he was inspired to create his GoFundMe page to aid the homeless after seeing the impact YouTube star “Mr. Beast” Jimmy Donaldson made on others through his generosity.
  • Described as “YouTube’s biggest philanthropist,” Donaldson has reportedly given away more than $1 million in total and may yet inspire others like Epsey, as his channel boasts 13.8 million subscribers.
  • There were 3,059 people considered homeless on a given single night in 2018, according to a national snapshot released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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