There is backlash over a GoFundMe page launched Thursday to help a young couple with their medical bills after they were rescued earlier this week after being stranded in the Adirondacks.
Maddie Popolizio, 19, and Blake Alois, 20, spent two nights stuck near the summit of the second highest peak in upstate New York before being airlifted to safety on Tuesday.
The fundraising page has a goal of $10,000 and was set up by Popolizio’s sister, Elizabeth. She wrote that the couple didn’t ask her to set up the page, and both families reiterate they have had nothing to do with it — adding that it was a nice gesture. But Popolizio felt the young couple deserved the help “after witnessing what they went through,” and that she also hoped any funds raised would go to support the rescue teams:
“Please help support Madison and Blake on their road to recovery. We would like to raise money to help both Madison and Blake with their medical bills.
“HOWEVER, Madison and Blake are simply happy to be alive. They feel their safety is enough. They would like to use any money raised in their name and donate it to those who braved the mountain to help rescue them,” the younger Popolizio wrote on the GoFundMe page.
But what is reportedly now missing from the appeal is a mention that the money might also help the two take a trip to Paris — which the couple talked about wanting to do while they feared for their lives.
Within minutes of when the site went up, people responded angrily — upset about the fundraiser and the suggestion that the money would be used for a trip to Paris, as The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, reported. Some pointed out that the search-and-rescue effort to save them already cost them in taxpayer dollars — and that was more than enough.
Alois and Popolizio left on their hike Sunday morning. When they didn’t return, more than 60 people set out to find them.
The two had lost their way due to snow conditions, and were suffering from hypothermia when rescuers found them, but they otherwise managed to survive the ordeal relatively unscathed. Rangers hoisted them from the mountainside by helicopter and took them to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where a hospital spokesman listed the two in good condition.
In a statement released through the hospital, Popolizio said, “I cannot even begin to articulate how unbelievably grateful I am to the rescue group who found us. And to the people who saved us, and to the people who never gave up looking for us and kept us in their prayers.”