As a sportswriter, you become a little jaded and, frankly, somewhat cynical, when it comes to fans. When their teams win, they beat their chest pridefully and when they lose they want to fire everybody.
But then there are times like I’ve experienced this week, when one of the fans’ own has encountered some kind of misfortune and they step up and respond in an extraordinary way.
In case you missed it, Gus Felder, one of Georgia’s strength and conditioning coaches, was the victim of house fire Wednesday night. As detailed in my original story on the incident, only a miraculous set of circumstances prevented it from becoming a tragic event.
I wrote that story late Thursday morning and included a link to a gofundme account that Felder’s church established for him. Friday morning, I called Thomas Settles, pastor of Calvary Bible Church, for an update.
“The gofundme has raised about $15,000, which is incredible in 24 hours,” said Settles, who also serves as one of the Bulldogs’ team chaplains. “A lot of people here in town have reached out to them and gone to see them and visit. The response has been amazing. They’ve really been touched by the outpouring.”
Settles said the Felder family — which includes five children between the ages of 4 and 17 — has found temporary shelter in the home of fellow strength and conditioning coach John Thomas.
“They’re doing well,” Settles said. “They’re comfortable for right now. They’re in a good place. They’re hoping to maybe buy a house. They were renting and getting ready to close and purchase that house. Now they hope they can maybe buy another house in the same general area.”
Settles was one of the first non-emergency professionals to respond to the scene and he shared some pictures with me this morning. He continues to be taken aback by the miraculous chain of events that kept this from being a terribly tragic story.
“On the outside it just looks like smoke damage,” he said. “But on the inside, I mean, the kids would have passed away if he hadn’t found out what was happening. It’s amazing that he caught it when he did. If he hadn’t the whole place would have gone up and the kids would have passed away.
“It’s just the grace of God. If we hadn’t have been on spring break, he would’ve had to be up by 5 and would’ve gone to bed very early and then you’d have been dealing with smoke inhalation. Truly the grace of God.”
You can check out the gofundme web page by CLICKING HERE.