The fundraiser surpassed $10 million (US$7.9 million) as of around 7 p.m. ET Thursday and continues to grow. It’s now the largest GoFundMe campaign in Canada and ranked among the five most successful campaigns ever on the platform.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before in Canada,” CEO of GoFundMe, Ron Solomon said. “It’s by far the largest campaign. But what is most phenomenal is that people started to donate in Western Canada … then it spread to the United States, and now donations are coming from 65 countries.”
The fundraiser was set up by Sylvie Kellington, a Humboldt woman whose son played for a youth version of the team called the Broncos Bantam A team.
More than 100,000 donors in 65 countries have contributed to the campaign, including Australia, Spain, France, Switzerland, India and Peru.
Many people in hockey communities across Canada and the world have donated to the cause. Donations range from $5 to an anonymous donation of $50,000. The Toronto Maple Leafs donated $10,000 and corporations like Canadian Tire and Shaw Communications kicked in thousands more.
“It’s a bunch of young people so that makes us feel it’s more tragic,” Steve Joordens, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough said.
“But what is more of a factor, is that in some way everyone has or knows someone who has a kid in soccer, hockey etc. A lot of people around the world can identify with that and can feel what a kick in the stomach it would be,” he said.
Joordens said if you talk with soccer parents in Germany, they would probably have a similar story to Canadian hockey parents. “Kids working hard to make it, and parents supporting their child and trying to make their dreams come true,” he added.
“It may not be in the same geography, but there are similar communities across the world doing the same. So people resonate with this story, to the extent we can empathize with it. It makes people think of their kids,” Joordens said.
Funds will first go directly to the families to help with expenses, according to the GoFundMe page. But it will still take several months to distribute the money raised so far for the victims, according to a GoFundMe spokesperson.
The spokesperson, Rachel Hollis, declined to say whether the money would be dispersed only among the families of the 16 people killed, or if it would also go to the 13 others who were injured, according to the Canadian Press.
“It’s still too soon for that level of detail and the distribution of funds will take time to organize,” Hollis told the Canadian Press in an email. “We will ensure the Humboldt Broncos have all the support they need.”
A campaign of that scale presents logistical challenges, which GoFundMe said it’s still working through.
WATCH: Humboldt Broncos say GoFundMe money to be ‘primarily’ used to support victims’ families
“This will likely be a process that’ll take several months,” Hollis wrote. “We’ll move as quickly as possible, but in the wake of a tragic and complicated event these things, unfortunately, take several months to fully resolve.”
GoFundMe said it has safeguards in place to ensure the money goes to the right place, including transferring funds directly to the beneficiary of the campaign, rather than its organizer.
Broncos president Kevin Garinger said the amount of money raised so far was “staggering,” adding the money will be used to support the needs of victims and those who have survived.
“We want to make sure we do the right thing to support our families,” he said.
The Humboldt Broncos fundraiser is among the top five GoFundMe campaigns in the world. At its current pace, it’s also on track to pass the $6.8 million raised for victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February.
The No. 1 fundraiser to date is the Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund, which has raised more than US$21 million in three months. The campaign aims to bring legal assistance to victims of sexual harassment or abuse.
The second-largest campaign is for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017. That has raised $11.8 million in six months.
GoFundMe has set up a centralized hub for all the fundraisers dedicated to the Humboldt Broncos.
The campaign for the family of head coach Darcy Haugan, who died in the crash, has raised more than $65,000 and a fundraiser for the assistant coach Mark Cross, who also passed away, is above $2,300.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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