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'This should be a model': United Way delivers $2M to Chiefs Super Bowl rally shooting victims, organizations

Posted: 11:01 AM, Jun 27, 2024
Updated: 2024-06-27 23:22:34-04
KC Strong Fund

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Donations from a special emergency fund created to support gunshot victims from the Chiefs Super Bowl rally shooting are officially being dispersed.

On Thursday morning, 20 individuals were notified of direct payouts from United Way's KC Strong Fund that will range from $22,000 to $100,000.

All victim payments total $1.2 million.

10-year-old Samuel Arellano was shot in his side during the rally. KSHB 41's Alyssa Jackson was at the family's household the moment they found out how much they would be receiving from the donations.

When the email from the KC Strong Fund came in, their facial expressions were a mix of excitement and shock.

Arellano family
Abigail Arellano (left), Samuel Arellano (middle), Antonio Arellano (right)

"Dear Mr. Arellano, we are sorry for all you experienced and continue to experience in regard to the February 14th tragedy," Samuel read. "We have reviewed the claim you submitted to KC Strong involving the Chief's Super Bowl celebration shooting..."

Samuel Arellano was given $55,555.

"That's a lot of money," he said.

The 10-year-old was at the celebration with some of his family members. He ran and tried to take cover when the shots were fired and thought he got out with just the pain of being stepped on.

"I didn't even know I got shot. I just felt something right here," Samuel said. "It didn't even feel like a gun shot. It felt like a knife."

It was a miracle the bullet was inches away from changing his future. This family has been getting through it all together but there are some aspects of life that just kept moving.

"We don't sell, we don't get paid. I had to keep working and she [Samuel's mother] was the one who had to stop working and this house needs two paychecks," said Antonio Arellano, Samuel's father.

While they did expect some assistance from the fund, this exceeded what they imagined.

"I know there’s a lot of people who got injured. I know there’s a lot of bills to pay. We were expecting half of that maybe less," Samuel's father said.

In addition to catching up on some of their bills that fell behind, Samuel has more plans for what he'd like to do with the money.

"I’ll go to Chief’s games," he said. "We're going to go on a vacation to Florida so I can go on the beach."

The Process

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and United Way of Greater Kansas City's CEO Chris Rosson had an exclusive one-on-one sit down with KSHB 41's Alyssa Jackson before payments were sent out.

United Way CEO, Jean Peters Baker talk on impact of KC Strong Fund

After the sounds of celebration turned to chaos on Feb. 14, Peters Baker received a phone call she's received many times before when a crime has occurred.

"Usually it's dark. Not many people witness events, but this was televised," she said. "People were everywhere. It was a joyous event that turned awful in the blink of a second. It dawned on me while standing at that crime scene that we had to figure that part out too."

In more than a decade of service as Jackson County's prosecutor, Peters Baker admitted her office has never handled the scope of a situation like what happened at the celebration.

Jean Peters-Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor

As the number of victims gradually went up in the minutes and hours that followed the event, Peters Baker and her team guided next steps.

"I will say even for the number of years I’ve been in this, it took me a few minutes to figure out, 'What are my next steps on this one?'" she said. "We are always looking at trying to help collect evidence and figure out what’s the right pathway to collect that evidence, but immediately I thought about the public harm that we all witnessed."

United Way of Greater Kansas City, in partnership with the Chiefs, immediately created a fund to offer financial assistance.

It received thousands of dollars in donations in under 24 hours from large corporations, foundations and individuals.

The nonprofit's president and CEO said though hundreds of people from Kansas City and fans visiting from other cities reached out because they may have experienced trauma or physical injury, the fund is intended for gun shot victims.

Chris Rosson, United Way President and CEO

Rosson said the nonprofit has other programs, including rental assistance, utility assistance and mental health support that have been made available to anyone seeking it.

"Immediately recognized as those numbers were pouring in that there were really no amount of success for the fund that would fully heal the damage done on that day," Rosson said. "There’s an acceptance you have to have that you are doing the work because it’s the right thing to do, not because you’ll be able to fully resolve the situation for everybody."

United Way partnered with the prosecutor's office for victim verification to make sure the fund's recipients were vetted by law enforcement.

The nonprofit also worked with legal counsel for a claim review process using a form to determine the assistance victims would receive.

The funds will cover costs including medical bills, mental healthcare needs and lost wages.

"We knew also that this would be a long road for those who are hurt by the violence of that day," Rosson said.

Crime Solutions

KSHB 41 has checked in with some victims of the shooting in the past few months.

They've shared much of the financial hardship created from the tragedy.

Those hardships are often noticed by Peters Baker with victims who survive a shooting.

"This aid will help families from falling into the sea of not being able to pay rent, not being able to pay hospital bills, and finding a way to bridge that gap from losing employment while you heal," she said. "All victims deserve this care and treatment."

United Way said they've given 100% of the funds to community partners and shooting victims from that day.

With crime solutions being another important focus for the nonprofit, they have also given fourteen local organizations grant funding that totals $831,750.60.

The recipients are AdHoc, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, CCR, Guadalupe Centers, the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, KC Common Good, KC Mothers in Charge, Lyrik's Institution, Newhouse, Rose Brooks, Transition Zone, The Battle Within, University Health and Uncornered.

They all focus on violence prevention and intervention, mental health services and recovery, and aid for first responders.

"What was important to us with the fund is that we made sure the dollars were going to organizations that do this work on an ongoing basis so that often in low-income communities that don’t have resources or attention, we can make sure dollars are going to them as well," Rosson said.

Peters Baker mentioned it's rare for crime survivors to receive financial resources.

That's why years ago her office created "Caring for Crime Survivors," a program that responds to crime victims and helps with hardships inflicted, including repairs to doors and windows.

Missouri also has a crime victim's compensation fund, but not all victims of crime are eligible to receive financial assistance.

Peters Baker hopes the level of support victims received after the February shooting is the same support other victims of crime can get who are out of the spotlight.

"The financial instability that occurs after a shooting can be catastrophic for a family and it often is," she said. "This should be the model for how victims are aided. First, they just need aid. They need aid."