Jerry and Jamie Needel decided to launch the campaign after a criminal investigation against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky led to charges that he molested eight boys over a 15-year period and to allegations that top school officials failed to respond adequately. Sandusky has maintained his innocence.
The couple, who live in New York City, met on their first day at Penn State and graduated in 1998.
"We couldn't bear to sit there and watch and not do a thing," Jaime Needel told the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
The Needels created Twitter and Facebook accounts to raise funds for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. The couple launched the campaign Nov. 10 under the handle ProudPSUforRAINN. Donations totaled $53,000 in the campaign's first 24 hours.
Donations go to RAINN's sexual assault hotline, an anonymous instant messaging service to allow victims of sexual abuse to speak in confidence about their trauma.
People who did not attend Penn State also have contributed, and the University of Nebraska has offered to auction off three football helmets on the Internet and donate the funds to RAINN.Link: