SARANAC — Whether by mail, in person or online, support has been coming from all directions for Keith and Vicki Tedford and their sons, Shawn and Bryan.
Mr. Tedford was home alone on the night of Oct. 26 when an outdoor wood boiler ignited, setting fire to the family’s house at 77 No. 37 Road, Saranac.
“The longest 15 to 20 minutes of my life was standing there watching everything I worked for, my wife and I, for our sons, burning and I couldn’t do anything about it,” he said.
Their home was destroyed, and the family’s black Labrador retriever, Shadow, died in the blaze.
“She was as much a part of the family as the two boys,” Mr. Tedford said.
They plan to rebuild their home, he said.
The family is staying with Mr. Tedford’s brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Eileen Tedford, but they appreciated numerous offers for temporary lodging from neighbors.
A network of support, at home and from afar, has been the most surprising part of the weeks following the fire.
“Even today, in the mail, we’re still receiving cards and donations and numerous texts, Facebook (messages) and anything that people can do to help us,” Mr. Tedford said.
For him, one of the best examples of this support is an online fundraiser that has brought in almost $3,000 for them.
The effort was the idea of Saranac High School graduate Kevin Cross, who’d had Mr. Tedford as his physical-education teacher and baseball coach.
A graduate student at SUNY Buffalo, he didn’t let distance prevent him from offering the family support.
Cross found the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, which lets users create an online fundraiser that accepts credit or debit cards to pay for donations.
Shortly after setting up the page on the site, Cross said he heard that his friends Kalob Drollette, Ben Depo and Devon Klooster, also former students of Tedford’s, had wanted to help the family.
Together, the group shared links to the fundraiser site on Facebook and Twitter, where it was spread around further by their friends and family members.
One of the steps in setting up an Indiegogo account is establishing a minimum amount that the fundraiser hopes to raise. The lowest goal that a user can set is $500.
“I just picked that, not knowing how well we would do,” Cross said.
More than $500 was donated within three hours of the start of the fundraiser. By the end of the first day, $1,300-plus had been raised.
As of Saturday evening, the total was $2,700.
Just the gesture itself, that his former students took the time to set up the site, was appreciated by the Tedfords.
“To watch these young men think that much of our sons and of our family, it is very, very heartwarming,” Mr. Tedford said.
For Shawn, the online campaign and local support for his family from neighbors and friends provides some comfort while he is in Texas studying at Sam Houston University.
“To anybody who’s helped out, either donating to the website or stopping by the house to help with the cleanup, I would just say, with everything that I have, thank you,” he said.
Find the site to help the Tedfords at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tedford-family-fund.