GoFundMe pages have been set up to help the Branson, Missouri area duck boat victims and their families, including Tia Coleman, whose loss and survival moved people throughout the world. Seventeen people – including 9 members of Tia’s family, the Colemans – perished in the horrific tragedy. You can see verified pages below, as well as information about how to donate money to the victims by check or directly through an official community donation effort website.
The “Ride the Ducks” boat – a popular tourist attraction – was swamped by water while journeying through Table Rock Lake. The sudden storm flipped the boat, killing 17 of the 31 people on the craft. The tragedy has moved many people throughout the country to find a way to help the victims.
The victims include the 9 members of the Coleman family from Indianapolis, Indiana; a church deacon father and his teenage son from Arkansas; a grandmother credited with saving her granddaughter’s life; a boyfriend and girlfriend on a vacation from St. Louis; a couple married 45 years; and the boat’s driver. You can read about all of the victims here.
“The funds are only released to the intended beneficiary,” Katherine Cichy, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe, told The Indianapolis Star.
Here’s what you need to know about the GoFundMe pages set up to help the victims:
Chamber of Commerce GoFundMe Page to Help the Branson Ducks Victims
A GoFundMe spokesman tells Heavy that this page is a verified page to help the victims. It’s called “Table Rock Cares.” The page was set up by the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce and Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB. Many news sites, such as ABC7, have directed viewers to the Chamber GoFundMe if they want to help.
“Our team is closely monitoring all GoFundMe campaigns related to this tragedy and will be sure to send you other verified campaigns. We have seen no misuse on the platform related to this event and guarantee all funds get to the right place. You can read more on the GoFundMe Guarantee here: gofundme.com/guarantee,” the spokesman added to Heavy.
Sheila Thomas, of the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce, posted this message with the page:
Thank you all so much for your donations so far! I’ll try to answer a few of your questions here. First, we chose gofundme because we already had the infrastructure in place and we wanted this done quickly. Yes, they do take a portion of the funds but it’s not large and it saves the Skaggs Foundation time and energy. You can also donate directly to the Skaggs Foundation if you choose, just note that it’s for the victims fund.
As to the goal, we had no idea what to expect. We will change the goal as we go along because response has been tremendous! I feel very fortunate to live in such a giving and loving community.
And, some really great news – Titanic Museum Attraction will be making a sizable donation to the Skaggs Foundation, and other businesses have reached out also.
Thanks again. We will get through this together.
The page had raised more than $25,000 by July 21, 2018. Wrote one woman, echoing the sentiments of many who donated on the page, “I can’t even imagine waking to a morning of joy and ending it with such a tragedy. I will always be thinking of you and the family members you lost on this horrible day. Praying for you all and will continue to do so in the days and years to come.”
GoFundMe Page to Help Tia Coleman & the Coleman Family
Tia spoke out in a heartbreaking press conference on July 21, showing amazing composure and grace under the strain of awful tragedy.
“I’ve had tons of family members and friends sending requests and asking how I’m doing and supporting,” said Tia. “That’s the only way I’m getting through this. Through God. A lot of people here in the city, I’ve had pastors in the city come and they’ve prayed for me and said they’ll keeping me in their thoughts and prayers. That’s the best way I’m getting through it.”
She added: “Going home I already know is going to be completely difficult. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. Since I’ve had a home it’s always been filled. It’s always been filled with little feet and laughter. And my husband, I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I just know that I’ll continue to need the support of my family, my friends and even my extended family and friends who I haven’t met. I’ll need that.”
The first page has raised more than $224,000 as of July 21, 2018 to help Tia Coleman and the Coleman family. “Eleven family members went on a family vacation when a horrible boating accident killed nine family members, including Tia’s husband Glenn, their three children Reece, Evan and Arya along with his Mother and Father in Love Belinda and Hoarse Coleman her sister in love Angela and her son Max. Any donations will help in laying our nine loved ones to rest,” the page reads.
Tia Coleman and her nephew were the only survivors in the family after 11 of the family members boarded the Ride the Ducks boat. Tia lost her three children and husband as well as many other relatives. Her poise during media interviews from her hospital bed has moved many people.
How to Donate Another Way
If you prefer not to use GoFundMe, you can help the victims through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, according to The Springfield News-Leader newspaper.
“Donations can be made by credit card at cfozarks.org/donate, by choosing the ‘Branson Area Disaster Relief Fund’ at the top of the drop-down menu,” the newspaper reported. “Checks can be sent to Community Foundation of the Ozarks, P.O. Box 8960, Springfield, MO, 65801. Additional information and updates can be found at givebranson.org.”
The givebranson.org page reads, “Donations are being accepted to support needs of victims, families and others involved in the tragic sinking of the sightseeing boat on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, Thursday night. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and its affiliates, the Table Rock Lake Community Foundation and Community Foundation of Taney County, have opened the Branson Area Disaster Relief Fund to accept secure, tax-deductible donations via online donations or checks.”