WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It has been 19 years since September 11 attacks on this country that left thousands dead and first responders feeling the impact to this day. A new crowdfunding site labels itself as a way to exclusively support families of all first responders facing hard times. For Skip and Tammy Danielson, Fund the First is a way to heal financially as their hearts continue to ache.
“He went in immediately to the triage area at the hospital, collapsed, and they worked on him for five hours,” said Skip.
Skip recalls the tragic day his son Scott died. Scott was the chief of an emergency squad in New Jersey, responding to the scene of a crash. He found out his daughter Alycia was involved in the crash. After following Alycia’s ambulance to the hospital, he realized he needed help. Alycia survived, but Scott died of a heart attack.
“The kids, though they’re adults now, you know, are still having all kinds of issues, still having nightmares,” said Tammy Danielson, Scott’s wife.
The lingering impact of Danielson’s death hit the family’s finances. Tammy is entitled to workmen’s compensation, but says an insurance company is appealing her case, leaving her bank account in limbo. Tammy turned to Fund the First. Her campaign is just a month old and she has raised over five thousand dollars.
“It’s, you know, specific for first responders, and a lot of times they get overlooked,” said Tammy.
A Fund the First spokesperson says there are more than 40 campaigns up and running on the crowdfunding site that have raised over $185,000. The site includes campaigns from Hurricane Laura responders to those who served on 9/11.
“We want our contributors to know this is the only authorized place to raise money during their time of need,” said Robert Garland, founder and CEO of Fund the First.
He says he started the company for his partner, whose sick daughter was racking up expensive medical bills. Garland says he found too many crowdfunding sites are unverified and vulnerable to fraud.
He says his site has a rigorous verification process, forcing those starting a campaign to verify their identification multiple times. Garland says this ensures every dollar is guaranteed to go to first responder’s family.
“Ensuring security and trust for our fellow first responders to host their campaigns during their time of need without having to worry about someone stealing their campaign,” said Garland.
Money will not bring Scott back to the Danielson family, but Skip says this fund can at least ease some of the financial pain.
“It’s been tough on all of us, but obviously it’s been toughest on (Tammy),” said Skip.
Scott Danielson died at the age of 49.