Jul 30, 2014
Partly Cloudy

$70K In Donations Missing From Newtown-Related Fund

$70K In Donations Missing From Newtown-Related Fund
Representatives from a Nashville-based fund based around running marathons for victims of the Sandy Hook shooting say they are unable to account for more than $70,000 in donations, and the man responsible for overseeing its finances cannot be found,  according to a report from the Associated Press.

According to a leader of the group — called 26.4.26, a reference to the 26 miles of a marathon and the 26 victims of the shooting — one of the organization's co-founders, finance overseer Robbie Bruce, has broken off contact with other members. Associated Press reporters say they tried to reach Bruce by phone and at his home and could not contact him.

In January, Bruce presented a check for $30,000 to the NYA (Newtown Youth Academy.) Since then, the group has not distributed the remainder of its $103,000 funds, according to the Associated Press. The group did not report its funds to state officials during a survey of various Newtown-related funds assembled last year.

"I am in tears, sick about this," co-founder Ryan Graney told the AP this week. She said her suspicions were raised last spring when she noticed charges for paddle boards in the foundation's PayPal account, then saw photos of a paddle board in Bruce's truck on Instagram.

"Due to the founders transgressions and misconduct we were forced to end all ability for 26.4.26 to collect money ... Especially after it was revealed that foundation money was spent on personal items," the group wrote on its Facebook page on Dec. 20.

Over the past year, the foundation received national attention for its efforts. In Tenneseean  profile, Bruce said he got the idea for a marathon-based fund for Newtown while scrolling through posts from runners on Facebook.

"You think you have a great idea, you really hope people do it, but you don’t believe it until you actually see it," he said. "Never in my life have I seen anything like what happened over those five days."

Don’t miss updates from Patch!