A GoFundMe campaign set up in the name of Irma Garcia, the fourth-grade teacher killed during a mass shooting at a Texas primary school on Tuesday, has raised more than $1.79 million after renowned Twitter philanthropist Bill Pulte asked his 3.2 million followers to donate money to pay for funeral costs and help to financially support her family.
The original goal of the GoFundMe campaign was to reach $30,000, according to a tweet by Garcia’s nephew, John Martinez, who approached Mr Pulte to help the family reach their financial target, according to the Detroit Free Press newspaper.
Since then, Mr Martinez's original campaign, which raised $557,432, has been transferred over to a GoFundMe page set up by Debra Austin, Garcia's cousin, where donations have continued to surge.
Garcia, a mother of four children, was killed alongside co-teacher Eva Mireles and 19 of their pupils by teenage gunman Salvador Ramos at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, in one of the deadliest school shootings in the US in years.
Garcia’s husband, Joe, suffered a heart attack on Thursday morning and died shortly after placing flowers at a memorial site for the victims of the shooting, the Associated Press reported.
The couple’s oldest child, Cristian, is a Marine. Their other son, Jose, attends Texas State University. Their eldest daughter, Lyliana, is in her second year at high school, while her younger sister is in the seventh grade, AP said.
As of Friday morning in the UAE, the GoFundMe campaign has raised $1,792,780 from 29,026 donations, with many of them from Mr Pulte’s followers.
Mr Pulte is the grandson of the late William Pulte, the founder of Pulte Homes, the second-biggest home developer in the US, according to Forbes. At the time of his death in 2018, Pulte senior had a net worth of $1.8 billion.
Mr Pulte, who celebrates his 34th birthday on Saturday, has a net worth of $100 million, according to wealth-tracking website Celebrity Net Worth. The bulk of his wealth is derived from his private equity company, Pulte Capital.
“He has become known for social media stunts where he gives away free cars, hands cash to strangers in parking lots and giving away money on Twitter,” Celebrity Net Worth said.
Mr Pulte noticed that $12,000 had been raised on the GoFundMe site for the Garcia family within the first 10 hours, he said during an interview with the Detroit Free Press on Thursday.
After his first tweet, the donations surged past the $50,000 mark, he said.
“It's devastating,” Mr Pulte told the newspaper. “I thought of some of my kid's teachers when I looked at the lady's photo. We've got to use the full force of Twitter philanthropy to take care of her. This money all goes to her family. People want to take care of other people.”