WATERTOWN, NY, November 1, 2019 — As the news has reported, we have agreed to turn over all funds raised for any purpose following the unspeakably tragic fire that took the life of our brother Aaron Bodah and four of his daughters. Our family was devastated by these losses, and we were grateful for the outpouring of community support in the days, weeks, and months that followed the fire.
Many fundraising efforts were undertaken throughout the community—some were advertised, and some were not, some were for intended for the Bodah Family. We were specifically aware of certain fundraisers that had been organized, and were unaware, perhaps to this day, of others.
Although our main desire and that of our family is to look forward, a few important details have been overlooked in the reporting of these issues, and we think it is important for the donors to know those details.
First, Ken and Travis—Travis lived in the house with Aaron—have agreed to relinquish all funds received from any fundraiser. Those funds have been turned over to the Attorney General’s Office, and ultimately will go to our niece H. Bodah.
Second, Beth was not a signer on any account holding funds from any fundraiser, and she never had the ability to, and did not, spend those funds for any purpose.
Third, every dollar donated, other than gift cards for immediate needs in the days after the fire were deposited in segregated accounts. Many of these donations were mailed directly to the relevant banks—as was requested in the fundraising postings—and we never had control of the funds before the deposit. Other donations were handed to us, and we deposited them directly in the Watertown Savings Bank account titled Bodah Family Memorial Fund. Those donations came in the following forms:
Checks made payable to Ken or Beth Bodah (which we could have cashed and not deposited, but made sure they went to the account)
Cash given to Ken or Beth Bodah (which we could have pocketed, but deposited)
Fundraising dollars intended for the Bodah Family Memorial
Donations from our friends and family intended for the Bodah Family
Fourth, Ken made every effort to safeguard all the donated funds, and we want the donors to know how they were used, notwithstanding that all will be turned over.
All funds from Go Fund Me were placed in a 529 account in H. Bodah’s name in April. Those funds, along with others, were turned over in September and we have personally taken on all penalties.
Two cemetery plots were purchased on both sides of Aaron and the girls. We wanted to make sure they were surrounded by family. One plot was paid for by us from our personal funds and the other through the Bodah Family Memorial Fund.
A memorial bench with headstone was purchased to encompass all three plots. This included the names of Aaron and the girls and our elderly parents. There is also space for additional names.
Travis lived with Aaron and the girls and helped Aaron take care of the girls. All his belongings and his home were lost in the fire. Following the fire, Travis moved into a one-bedroom upstairs apartment with our parents. Travis slept on the couch and didn’t have as much as a dresser. Ken, using our own personal funds, purchased and renovated a home in which Travis can live. Ken used the Bodah Family Memorial Fund to purchase a bed for Travis from Wayfair and appliances for the home from Lowes.
Recognizing that no amount of money can bring our brother and nieces back, we consented to releasing the funds as directed by the Attorney General. Although over $55,000 remained in the segregated Bodah Family Memorial Fund account, we arranged to reimburse the account for the above listed expenses. Our hope is that we can finally and peacefully grieve the loss of our brother and nieces.
We are truly grateful for all our family and friends for their unwavering support and trust and to all those who generously donated to the fundraising efforts.