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'We need to pay some bills': United Way donations will help family recover after Super Bowl rally shooting

Emily Tavis
Posted at 8:54 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-11 00:07:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The $1.8 million raised from United Way's KC Strong fund will soon be distributed to victims of the Chiefs Kingdom Super Bowl rally shooting and to violence prevention organizations.

United Way received more than 100 inquiries about the fund, but only victims who were shot will be eligible to receive money.

After working with the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office on victim verification, the non-profit and their legal counsel will review claimant forms and distribute funds in the coming weeks.

Emily Tavis and her family have been trying to recover financially while healing from gunshot wounds.

Tavis was shot in the calf and her husband, Jacob Gooch, had a bone in his foot shattered by gunfire.

Emily's stepson was shot in the bottom of his foot, which forced him to miss the rest of his basketball season and track and field season.

The day of the rally shooting remains a grim memory for Tavis and her family.

She writes in her journal about the pain, the recovery and everything else the family continues to battle.

"It's been three months now, and life resumes as usual to the world outside my home, and now I'm forced to sit with myself. I'm forced to support myself," Tavis shared from her journal. "My wounds are inside."

While she is dealing with an internal battle, the more visible struggle for her family are the bills they can't hit pause on.

Tavis is the only source of income in her family because her husband's wounds from the shooting have left him unable to work.

"We haven’t been able to pay any doctor bills and it didn’t make up entirely for the lost wages, so we are still struggling a little in that category," she said. "We’ve been able to get by, but we have some outstanding bills that need to be addressed soon."

Kera Mashek, a spokesperson for United Way, said the non-profit anticipated the needs of victims by setting up a fund the day after the shooting.

"In our backyard we say, 'What can we do to help?'" Mashek said.

Mashek said all of the inquiries they've received from individuals who say they were impacted by the shooting don't qualify for the money.

The amount each person receives will vary based on their situation.

There is not a set amount or an equal split.

"There are some heartbreaking stories," Mashek said. "There are individuals who were in some challenging life circumstances before this shooting happened and it brought on a whole new set of challenging circumstances."

The challenge for Tavis, her husband and stepson everyday is the reality of the past, present and future.

They received donations from people in their hometown of Leavenworth, but they're hoping money from United Way will help them get back to normal.

"I'm hoping to put some money aside for my kids and especially Jacob (her stepson) who was shot.

He still has a bullet in his foot and the time will come when he needs to get that out," Tavis said.

Doctors suggested to the family because of the bullet's position, it should remain in his foot for now.

United Way's Board of Directors will vote next month on the violence prevention organizations that also will receive a portion of the donations.