A fundraiser set up by BlazeTV host Glenn Beck to aid small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic has blown past its original goal, raising more than $170,000.
"Over 300,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 virus this year and my heart goes out to every single one of the millions of Americans who will spend their first holiday season without a loved one," Beck said in a post on his website. "Another devastating part of what we've experienced together in 2020 goes beyond the loss of human life. It's the loss of one of the greatest, most special aspects of American society as well.
"Small businesses throughout America are the unnamed victims of this COVID-19 pandemic and economists estimate at least 100,000 small businesses permanently closed in the first two months of this pandemic alone," he wrote. "Well, it's been nearly ten months now. Do the math. That's one million businesses that have closed their doors forever — millions of Americans who poured everything into a dream, with nothing to show for it now."
Beck started a GoFundMe account on Thursday with an initial goal of raising $50,000 to help ailing small businesses across the country. On his radio program Thursday, Beck dedicated time to telling the stories of small business owners who are in desperate need of help as the pandemic threatens their livelihoods, and even their lives.
He shared Catherine Hill's story. Catherine owns a neighborhood bar in Clovis, California, called Miss Kitty's Lounge. In August 2019, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She underwent six months of chemotherapy, 15 rounds of radiation and a radical mastectomy in her battle with cancer. Since the pandemic began, her bar was closed via executive order from the governor and without income, she hasn't been able to pay her rent. Her landlords have now taken her to court and threaten to not only take her business away forever but everything else as well, including life insurance for her kids.
Dave Foldes is the co-owner of Cronies Sports Grill in California. Despite the government orders to close his business, Dave has vowed he will not lay off a single employee during the Christmas season. Attempting to keep that promise has brought him into direct confrontation with California authorities, who have fined him $500 a day — now totaling more than $7,000 — for refusing to abide by the coronavirus restrictions that would force him to lay off employees. He told Glenn his defiance isn't a political statement, he just believes his employees have a right to earn a living and he won't break his commitments to his staff.
In one clip from Beck's show, he shared the heartbreaking story of Rochelle Rene Ratto, a 39-year-old mother of two who owned Boat Barn Bagels. Ratto's bakery in Cañon City, Colorado, was forced to shut down because of COVID-19 restrictions. On October 26, Ratto took her own life.
Ratto's mother, Shari Rogers, said her daughter's death was a casualty of the pandemic. She told the Cañon City Council on Monday that small business owners are in desperate need of assistance to survive.
"She tried to do it, but she couldn't do it and she killed herself," Rogers said. "She was strong, she was smart, she was developing the business mind and doing well. I just feel like dollars are more important than just about anything, and then testing so that when the community freaks out, [business owners] can test themselves and their employees."
COVID 19 is destroying small business, & these owners NEED OUR HELP www.youtube.com
Beck asked his audience to take a stand and give businesses the help they need to prevent more tragedies like Ratto's death.
"I ask you to stand with me," Beck said. "To show that the government may have abandoned the small business owner but we won't abandon them."
In addition to the GoFundMe account Beck set up, he also donated all proceeds collected on Thursday from Glennbeckart.com to help small business owners find relief from COVID-19 restrictions.
As of the time this article was published, Beck's GoFundMe account has raised $173,431, vastly out-raising the initial goal of $50,000.