More than $3.8 million has been distributed to 47 victims of the Oregon District mass shooting and their families, which one of the recipients said reflects the strength of the Dayton community.
“There’s so much compassion in the community,” said Dion Green, whose father died in his arms during the Aug. 4 mass shooting. “But let’s not show it only when there’s tragedy.”
The Dayton Foundation created the Oregon District Tragedy Fund hours after the mass shooting. Donations came from all 50 states and more than 5,000 individuals, although local organizations, businesses and fundraisers such as the Gem City Shine concert generated the majority of the money.
Contributions ranged from $1 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, Dayton Foundation President Mike Parks said.
The foundation, as well as its legal and auditing consultants, provided their services for free and waived all fees so that all of the money would go to the 47 eligible victims of the Aug. 4 mass shooting and their family members.
“While these gifts can’t replace the life of a loved one or heal the wounds of the injured, they do express the love and support of the Greater Dayton community, our nation and the world,” said Gary LeRoy, co-chairman of the Community Oversight Committee and administrator of the fund.
The hope is that the money will go to victims’ children and the like, said members of the oversight committee, which was charged with determining eligibility.
“These were gifts that were given to these families and individuals that were the victims of this tragedy, and that we put no restrictions on how they would use their monies,” said LeRoy, also associate dean for student affairs and admissions at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.
Added Brother Raymond L. Fitz, committee co-chairman and former University of Dayton president: “We would hope that the money that’s been allotted will help ensure the future of children and other dependents in the family.”
Those eligible to get a share of the money were families of the nine people who died, as well as those who were physically injured. The family of Megan Betts, one of the nine people killed and the shooter’s sister, opted not to apply. The shooter was killed by police.
In all, 58 people applied for a share of the money, and 11 were denied.
Seventy percent of the money was dispersed to families of the deceased, 20% to those who suffered serious physical injuries and were hospitalized for at least two days, and 10% to those who saw a medical provider within the first 48 hours of the shooting, said Charles C. Craft, partner of Flagel Huber Flagel and co-chairman of the oversight committee.
Checks have been delivered to the victims and their families, and they received amounts ranging from nearly $335,000 to nearly $8,000, depending on the severity of their injuries.
It’s not clear if the money will be taxed. But Craft recommended recipients consult their tax adviser, adding that of all the people who have received similar funds after tragedies across the country have not been taxed.
On the night of the shooting, Springfield resident Green, his father Derrick Fudge, and Green’s girlfriend were all standing outside on East Fifth Street when the shooting started. Fudge was shot and died in his son’s arms.
Green said his family’s portion of the money will remain with an attorney until they determine how to divide it among relatives. He’s grateful to the Dayton Foundation and the thousands of people who made the gift possible.
“There’s no amount of money that can bring our families and loved ones back, but the (Dayton Foundation) did an excellent job raising the money,” Green said. “We definitely are a strong community for pulling together and helping each other out after the tragedy.”
Once he and his family decide how much of the money each person will receive, Green said he plans to first put aside money for his 11-year-old daughter Niara’s college fund, pay his student loans and complete his Master’s degree. He will also continue making repairs on his house, which was damaged during the Memorial Day tornadoes, Green said.
The idea for the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund came about hours after the shooting when Parks and his staff convened to figure how the foundation could help. They formed the Community Oversight Committee, which consisted of 15 volunteers from various organizations in the area.
The committee consulted Washington, D.C. attorney Ken Feinberg and Camille Biros, both of whom have advised foundation volunteers and leaders in other communities about how to distribute charitable donations given in the wake of mass shootings and disasters. The committee also sought input from the community and devised the protocol to determine how to disperse the funds.
The fund and the number of people and organizations that contributed to it punctuates the fact that the community is strong and they’ve stuck together through the many adversities this year, LeRoy said. Whether it was the KKK rally, the Memorial Day tornadoes that ripped through the Miami Valley or the the Oregon District shooting, the community stuck together, he said.
“And so we became not weaker because of (the tragedies), we actually became stronger because of these events. Few communities can say that we,” LeRoy said. “We can talk a good game about it, but actually be tested and proven that we are Dayton Strong. That’s the take home message for 2019.”