Out of Tragedy, Purpose

The Story of the First Fund a Hero Campaign

BARRY DONELAN
Director-at-Large
PORAC Region I

Officer Jordan Wingate having his badge pinned by his father

Months later, I watched the challenges Jordan’s dad faced in recovering the donated money from GoFundMe and, over a period of weeks, I saw Jordan’s family face one bureaucratic hurdle after another. At one very low point, GoFundMe asked to speak to Jordan, who remained in a coma, before funds would be released. Ultimately, the money made its way to aid Jordan, but only after GoFundMe took a sizable cut of the proceeds. As a PORAC Executive Committee member, I told Jordan’s story to my colleagues, only to learn that Marshall McClain and Tony Sanders were experiencing similar issues in Region III.

Led by PORAC President Brian Marvel, we resolved to find a better way. The Executive Committee concluded that the only way to maximize online donation was to create and operate the donation platform ourselves. PORAC Chief Operating Officer Kim Busman teamed up with 911MEDIA on this endeavor. It was PORAC Secretary Randy Beintema who came up with the idea of truly making it completely fee-free by having PORAC pay the credit card fees for line-of-duty-death campaigns.

The Dunakin family

When I voted for PORAC’s Fund a Hero program, I never thought that my association would be the first to organize a campaign on the new platform. However, that is exactly what happened. Weeks later, with Fund a Hero in place, another vehicle accident brought tragedy to the Oakland Police family again.

The vehicle collision on October 27, 2019, took the life of Angela Dunakin the next day. Angela was the wife of Oakland Police Sergeant Mark Dunakin (EOW March 21, 2009). Angela was a well-known figure in Oakland, where she took part in annual memorial services in remembrance of her husband and all Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty. She was also a retired Alameda County deputy sheriff herself. More importantly, she was a mother to three kids ranging in age from 19 to 25 — children who suddenly found themselves without both parents due to tragedy. Other than the small salary her oldest son was bringing home, their mother was their sole provider, since they were still in school and her income disappeared overnight.

We turned to Kim Busman, her team at PORAC, and 911MEDIA to set up the first PORAC Fund a Hero campaign, to provide for the immediate needs of Mark and Angela’s three children. Once our campaign was up and running, PORAC promoted it across the website and various social media platforms. Locally, the Oakland POA posted it on our website, Facebook, etc., but also in the local media. The link to the campaign appeared in the newspapers and on TV news along with stories detailing Angela’s death.

The Dunakin family

The outpouring of support through the Fund a Hero campaign was overwhelming. Our initial fundraising goals were surpassed within days. Every few days, we would reassess our dollar targets with Kim and push them up. Ultimately, the three-week campaign raised $63,000 for Angela and Mark’s children.

As we were the first to use the PORAC Fund a Hero platform, we did run into challenges, but those various problems were soon fixed by Kim and 911MEDIA. The effective, responsive platform that PORAC has today is due largely to Oakland’s fundraising campaign for the Dunakin children, which helped to iron out all the kinks.

We are grateful for this platform being in place at the very time we needed it, and we want to thank PORAC for carving out a program for law enforcement to be able to access in their times of need.  

 

Learn More about Fund A Hero