Illinois delegates are among hundreds of delegates across the country using the website GoFundMe to help pay for their trips to the national political conventions.
According to representatives from the online fundraising platform, more than 360 Republican and Democratic delegates have raised around $385,000 for their convention expenses.
Some Illinois delegates, especially those for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have said they were surprised to find out how much their trips to Cleveland or Philadelphia would cost. Dylan Parker is a diesel mechanic by day, and will be heading to Philadelphia this month as an Illinois delegate for Bernie Sanders. Parker said he turned to GoFundMe because coming up with the funds to get to the DNC was going to be tough for his young family.
“We can all do this together,” Parker said. “Small increments so we’re not breaking anybody’s back to do something really, really big. The GoFundMe mentality, the crowdfunding, that’s definitely the spirit of Bernie’s campaign.”
As the countdown to the DNC continues, many Sanders delegates in Illinois have hit their fundraising goal or are coming close to it. Elizabeth Braun Wilke, a delegate from the 11th congressional district, ended up shutting her page down early because she was able to fundraise over her $3,000 goal. She said she thinks some of her success is tied to a website built by another Sanders supporter that links to GoFundMe pages for delegates around the country. A separate website, Adopt a Bernie Delegate, has also popped up.
Some Illinois Trump delegates haven’t been as successful. Jim Devors, a Trump delegate from the 2nd congressional district, said he’s only been able to raise $200 of his $3,000 goal, but he’s not deterred. He plans to put the rest of the trip on his credit cards.
“If it takes me a few years to pay it off, it’s still gonna be worth it. It’s still gonna be an experience I’ll never forget.”
GoFundMe representatives calculate that more than 60 Republican delegates or alternates have raised nearly $60,000 for expenses related to the convention in Cleveland. On the Democratic side, more than 300 delegates or alternates have raised over $325,000 for their trip to Philadelphia.
Lauren Chooljian covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.