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GoFundMe for Orlando shooting victims raises $2M in a day

Key West resident Danny Gilbert displays one of

Key West resident Danny Gilbert displays one of many signs showing the island's support of the victims, families and residents of Orlando, Fla., as he helps carry a portion of the Key West Pride flag down Duval Street on Sunday, June 12, 2016, during the annual Key West Pridefest parade. Credit: AP / Rob O’Neal

A GoFundMe campaign to support victims of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando has raised more than $3 million as of Tuesday morning and donations continue to pour in.

By Monday afternoon, the online fundraiser hit its initial goal of $2 million after just one day, making it the fastest-funded campaign in the crowdfunding site’s six-year history.

Nearly 70,000 users have donated so far and the overall goal has been changed to $5 million.

Equality Florida, an LGBT rights nonprofit, started the campaign Sunday afternoon, hours after an armed gunman opened fire in Pulse nightclub, killing 49 and wounding dozens of others.

“We didn’t expect such a huge response,” said Dan Benoit, an Equality Florida employee. “We wanted to set this up to support families in the LGBT community, so that families could take care of their loved ones or cover funeral costs or other expenses.”

GoFundMe has made the largest donation, posting $100,000 at about 2 p.m. Monday. Executive Pride, an organization that advocates for LGBT rights in the business community, contributed $30,000, Cricket Wireless has given $25,000 and singer-songwriter Jeffree Star donated $20,000.

“The campaign is the second largest and fastest growing in GoFundMe’s history,” spokesman Bobby Whithorne said. “Our thoughts are with the victims and all those affected by this terrible attack.”

To ensure the money is dispersed directly to the victims, Benoit says Equality Florida is currently coordinating with a group of attorneys and the National Center for Victims of Crime, a nonprofit that helped disperse funds to victims following the mass shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Aurora, Colorado.

Another GoFundMe page posted Sunday by the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida has raised more than $242,000 for victims and their families.

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