Here’s a familiar story: a national disaster leads to the formation of several new charity groups and the mass donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of the charities are found to be fraudulent, while others are legitimate. Months later, reports surface of tens of thousands of dollars found “missing” from charities. Investigations ensue.
It’s no different for the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which occurred in December 2012 and resulted in the deaths of twenty children and six educators. One of the charities formed after the shooting, the 26.4.26 Foundation, raised $103,000 through marathon running—but now one of the cofounders says that only $30,000 was used for its purpose and that the other $70,000 is missing.
Ryan Graney, who cofounded the organization with Robbie Bruce, says that $30,000 was presented last January to NYA, a youth sports center in Newtown. Bruce was in charge of finances for the organization, but has since “cut off contact with her,” according to the Associated Press.
“I am in tears, sick about this,” Graney said.
“If I knew what was going on, I would have stopped it sooner,” she added. “I feel terrible. I couldn’t sit by and let this happen.”
The 26.4.26 Foundation isn’t Bruce’s only nonprofit venture—he also helped cofound the group X3 Endurance, which is a fitness training company, with Eddie Ferrell. However, Ferrell says he cut ties with Bruce about a year ago and hasn’t seen him since.
According to Graney, she first became suspicious with Bruce last spring. “I saw there was $1,200 billed for paddle boards,” she said of the group’s PayPal account. “I went on [his] Instagram page, and he had posted a picture of a paddle board in the back of his truck.”
She confronted Bruce and the two planned to meet—but Bruce never showed up. That fall, he cut off contact with her, following which she filed reports with the FBI and the Tennessee attorney general’s office.
Graney hopes that by going public with the information, she can track down the money and follow through with the organization’s original purpose by donating it. For now, many marathon runners who ran to raise money for the victims and their families want to see someone held accountable.