VIRGINIA BEACH — After Mayor Bobby Dyer called May 31 “the most devastating” in the city’s history, the community of people, organizations, and businesses rallied around the survivors and victims families by donating to the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund.
As of Friday, the fund has raised $4 million, according to a spokeswoman at United Way of South Hampton Roads.
And, although he’s grateful, Jason Nixon said he’s following through with a vision to establish a 501(c)(3) in honor of his wife, Kate, and the other 15 victims who died or were injured in the Municipal Center on May 31.
“I think the foundation would be an honorable thing to keep Kate’s legacy alive, help the families, and keep everybody remembering who they were,” he said.
Nixon said he’s thinking two black-tie dinners per year and a golf tournament in the spring will provide opportunities to say the victims’ names while also raising money.
Nixon said “it makes sense” to establish long-term financial assistance for families who are facing a loss of income because of the tragic death or debilitating injury of their family member who was in Building 2 that day.
“They worked for public utilities, public works — they weren’t police officers, they weren’t firefighters, they weren’t military they didn’t run that risk of losing their lives going to work,” he said. “No one in a billion years would expect something like this.”
As a real estate agent, Nixon said his checks didn’t cover the bills for their family of five, “my wife was the breadwinner and that’s just the way it was.”
“We’ve raised a lot of money [with the Tragedy Fund], but for 16 families it’s really not.”
Suddenly as the single parent of three girls ages 1, 6, and 13, Nixon has the added pressure of making sure the family is medically insured after Kate’s benefits plan expires in December.
“These are the things that keep me up at night,” he said.
That’s the reason establishing “a growing fund that’s consistently there” is so important to him, Nixon said, but it’s also important for the other families who might be facing the same, or different issues.
“There’s a lot of factors that play into peoples lives and family structure, nobody knows anyone else’s personal financial business,” he said.
So far, Nixon said the idea is still in its infancy but has received a lot of support from survivors, other victims’ families, and friends he’s mentioned it to.
Nixon said he’s never started a 501(c)(3) before and is open to opinions, advice, and information, with hopes of laying the foundation and getting the work done in time for it to be up and running next year.
He doesn’t have a name yet but wants to “come up with something that means a lot to everybody,” he said.
“I want to see this through and I think the city will embrace it,” he said. “I like the whole ‘VBStrong’ idea but we can make this a long-lasting thing in my opinion.”