LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It took longer than many thought -- and comedians had a laugh at their expense -- but singer Alicia Keys and her celebrity friends raised $1 million for an AIDS charity and, with it, lived to tweet again.
Keys and her Keep a Child Alive charity co-founder Leigh Blake on Monday said their widely-followed "digital death" campaign reached its $1 million goal after pharmaceutical entrepreneur Stewart Rahr pitched in $500,000.
At stake, along with raising funds to help millions of children and families living with AIDs in Africa and India, were the digital lives of celebrities who vowed to stay off social networking websites Twitter and Facebook until the $1 million was raised.
The celebrities included Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Usher. Their campaign launched on World AIDS Day, December 1, amid great fan fare with the expectation it would quickly reach its goal.
After all, the celebrities all have millions of fans. Lady Gaga boasts 7.3 million followers on Twitter, alone. Justin Timberlake has 3.6 million, and Seacrest has 3.7 million.
Problem was, it took longer than many celebrity watchers thought, and as donations reached only $100,000 then $200,000, the stars became the butt of jokes on the Web, TV and radio. Their popularity -- or lack thereof -- was questioned, as was their fans' desire to keep them digitally dead.
But on Monday, the stars emerged from their coffins.
"So stoked to be back on twitter! Special shout out to Stewie Rah Rah for his generous donation," Seacrest tweeted.
"I'm back from the dead! Thank you all so much for your donations and contributions! I have missed u all so much!!!," Kardashian posted on Twitter.
For its part, Keep a Child Alive said, "although we never expected to raise $1 million overnight, we are completely blown away that we were able to achieve our goal in less than a week." The group said more than 3,600 people participated in the campaign by sacrificing their own digital lives.
Rahr owned and operated a New York-based pharmaceutical distribution business that he recently sold. He learned of Keep a Child Alive earlier this year, the charity said.
Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Zorianna Kit