Newtown, Aurora Families Issue Statement on Money Being Properly and Rightfully Dispersed 

The parents and families of victims of previous rampage killings and mass shootings issued a statement supporting Equality Florida and NCVC’s National Compassion Fund:

We are the parents and family members of the deceased, the injured and survivors from some of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history – Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek Sikh Temple, Alturas, Newtown and Roseburg as well as 9/11.

Our hearts go out to all in our Orlando family who now walk in our shoes. We understand. We care. May you know every day that our love surrounds you. We are standing together today with one voice in an unprecedented show of unity from around the county for you. We want you to know that we are looking out for you while you are at your most vulnerable, and we will continue to do so. We speak up today to make sure that the intent of Americans and those around the world who want to help you is actually fulfilled.

Community-based funds, which is what the OneOrlando Fund is, have a long-established pattern — a business model — of collecting donations from caring Americans after tragedies (mass shootings, terrorist attacks and natural disasters) and not giving donations directly to the victims who need it so very badly.

In the Orlando Sentinel on June 14, the spokeswoman for the OneOrlando Fund stated that the money won’t go directly to the victims, but will support other non-profits. The non-profits in Orlando were told that money would be coming to them in short order — donations collected from the death and injuries of people’s children, mothers, fathers and siblings – will go to other non-profits instead of to families of the deceased and those in the hospital struggling to survive.

The OneOrlando Fund is also trying to establish itself as “the centralized fund” into which all the money will flow. We, as victims and survivors of some of the worst mass shootings in America, object. We object for our new, unfortunate family of victims who are too shocked and in despair to yet realize what is happening with the donations being collected in their names and the names of their deceased and injured loved ones.

We believe that donations that are collected in the wake of national tragedies for victims should be disbursed directly TO them. That is why Americans are giving. To help the victims directly.

Only a victim-based fund knows about victim compensation and disbursements. We are extremely disappointed in The Walt Disney Co. for not consulting with the victims of former mass shootings who are willing and able to guide them and could teach them about the history of victims being re-victimized by community-based funds.

The National Compassion Fund/Orlando and Equality Florida (which established a GoFundMe for Pulse victims) both have pledged that 100% of donations collected will go directly to the families of the deceased and injured in Orlando.

The history of community-based funds in this country is a shameful one. After Columbine, the community-based fund United Way kept the majority of the donated funds away from the families of the deceased and injured. That “Healing Fund” was nicknamed the “Stealing Fund” by victims. After Newtown, it was a behind-the-scenes debacle in which families who were directly affected challenged the United Way to honor donor intent. They did not comply, saying that the donations were not intended for the families. In Aurora, the families of the deceased had to get up off their knees in grief to battle the community-based fund started and endorsed by a politician to get the donations that Warner Bros. and others so generously gave for the victims.

Once again in Orlando, a community-based fund, started by a politician, is collecting donations from Americans and corporations as they try to become the “centralized fund.” We also object to this on behalf of our Orlando family of victims who, we know, are too traumatized and in shock right now to realize what this all means.

The careful selection of language in establishing these Funds are also done to fool the American public into thinking that their well-intentioned donations will go directly to the families of the deceased and injured. They don’t.

We are asking for this type of community-based fund (like OneOrlando) which arises after national tragedies to stop re-victimizing yet another set of grieving and suffering victim families who are burying their children, their fathers, mothers, and siblings — and let these families of the deceased and the injured heal the way only they know how. Give them the Funds that Americans and the world intended For them. They will need it to survive.

Victims must come first or we as a nation have lost our humanity.

Those of us below stand together (along with roughly 25 other parents of murdered children, injured and survivors from mass shootings across the country who were the founders of this model for helping victims directly after mass tragedies).

We stand squarely behind the pure intentions of Equality Florida and National Compassion Fund/Orlando and urge donors both big and small to give to these funds to help victims directly.

Signed by:
Linda Sanders, Wife of teacher Dave Sanders, murdered at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 Coni Sanders, Daughter of Dave Sanders, murdered at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 Eric Johnson, Son-in-law of Dave Sanders murdered at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999

Mallory Sanders, Granddaughter of Dave Sanders, murdered at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999