Society

Harassed USF Student Mistaken For Rachel Canning Turns Unwanted Publicity Into Charity

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A University of South Florida senior was bullied on social media last week when many confused her with a New Jersey teen who shares the same name.

Rachel Canning, 22, was mistaken for 18-year-old Rachel Canning of New Jersey, who sued her parents for monetary support after leaving home. Canning referred to the latter as “spoiled” before her request was denied last week by Superior Court Judge Robert Bogaard.

The former was USF’s most recent homecoming queen. Canning told the Tampa Bay Times she was bombarded with nasty comments on her old Facebook campaign page last week.

“I'm clearly not the Rachel Canning who is suing her parents since I live in Florida, not New Jersey, and I'm in college...so you can all stop messaging this page saying you hope I get hit by a bus now lol. go bulls?” she wrote on her page.

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Many apologized when they learned she was the wrong Canning.

Then she decided to turn the unwanted attention into a good cause.

She posted a link to her fundraising page on Autism Speaks.

“Considering my views have gone up several thousand in less than 24 hours, on a page that I assumed was obsolete since Homecoming is long over, I thought maybe some good can come from all this!” she wrote.

Last week she raised $2,300 for the organization, which sponsors autism research, promotes awareness and conducts outreach. Canning’s brother Thomas, 19, is autistic, and she is planning a walk in his honor next week.

"She's like the nicest daughter on the planet, I'm lucky she's my kid,” her mother, Mary Canning, told the Tampa Bay Times.

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, New Jersey Newsroom