Though it fell just short of a lofty $750,000 goal, the Stand on Guard Fund organized for the families of Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent raised just over $705,000 as its crowd funding deadline passed at midnight.
Companies and individuals from 26 countries pitched in to help after both men were tragically killed last week.
“It’s an overwhelming response from all Canadians,” said Stand on Guard Fund spokesperson Madi Rougier.
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“These are people that are donating for the families, people who are donating in the names of loved ones that may have died in the past and people just reaching out and trying to help these families in this very difficult time.”
The money will be split evenly between the families of Cpl. Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent. Cirillo was gunned down while guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Oct. 22. Vincent was killed in a hit-and-run while on duty on Oct. 20 in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.
Rush guitarist, Rosie O'Donnell donate
The fund started late last week when former Parliament Hill workers began tweeting and emailing each other about what they could do. They’ve partnered with the True Patriot Love Foundation and TD Canada Trust Foundation. All donations go directly into the fund.
“It started out as a small crowd funding campaign, and with the use of social media it really spread both nationally and internationally,” Rougier said. The fund’s first major corporate sponsors were Canada’s largest banks, who helped get them over the $100,000 hump. Tim Hortons also donated.
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson donated, as did Rosie O’Donnell, who found herself the subject of scrutiny after talking about the shooting on an episode of The View last week.
As "The View" panelists discussed whether Wednesday's shootings were an act of terrorism or not, O'Donnell said "most of these shooters have severe mental illness" and then expressed support for a controversial tweet about the shooting from model Chrissy Teigen, who used the tragedy in Ottawa to make a point about U.S. gun control.
In the end, O’Donnell donated $10,000 to the campaign.
Just over 3,500 people donated, Rougier says – with some individual donations topping $1,000.
Help for Cirillo's son
Organizer Laryssa Hetmanczuk says she envisions the fund helping Cirillo’s five-year-old son Marcus. Cirillo was only 24 when he died, she says, so likely didn’t have a lot of savings.
As Marcus grows up and goes to college, he won’t have his dad’s help, she says.
“Hopefully this money will be used to support him,” she said.
“I have a small child and I would imagine, if I was in a similar situation as Cpl. Cirillo, I’d be thinking about my child. I would hope that he would be happy to know that Canadians have stepped up and are trying to secure a strong financial future for his son.”
It is still possible to donate – any money raised from here on out will go to the True Patriot Love Foundation, Hetmanczuk said.
The foundation helps military families, and funds programs and research in areas such as mental health, physical rehabilitation and veteran transition.
“Especially as Canadians, we tend to want to help out when situations like this happen,” Rougier said.
“If there is any silver lining in these two very tragic situations, it’s that Canadians have really come together to try to help these families.”