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Donations for Boston Marathon bombing victims top $21M

MartinRichardfile.jpg

This undated photo provided by Bill Richard shows his son, Martin Richard, in Boston. The 8-year-old boy was the youngest of three people killed in the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon (AP)

Days after the Boston bomb attacks, Americans were quick to open their hearts and wallets to victims of the deadly blasts, raising more than $21 million so far for those who lost limbs and sustained life-changing injuries that will take years to adjust to.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced last week the creation of The One Fund Boston, the largest fundraising website in the wake of the blasts that puts money into one account -- later to be divided up for victims and their families.

As of Wednesday morning, the site reported $21,076,274 in funds raised, with more than $6 million from public donors and close to $15 million from corporations.

"I am humbled by the outpouring of support by the business community and individuals who are united in their desire to help ... At moments like this, we are one state, one city, and one people," Patrick said of the attack that killed three and injured more than 180 people.

Websites for individual victims have also sprung up -- like one for newlyweds Patrick and Jessica Downes, who each lost a leg below the knee in the explosion. The Downes, who married in August, were standing at the finish line when the first bomb detonated, knocking onlookers to the ground and tearing up limbs in a bloody scene that witnesses described as surreal.  

Friends and relatives of the couple set up a GiveForward site for people to donate money for the couple's medical care. The site has raised $680,000 to date.

Patrick Downes, a 2004 graduate of Boston College, is described as "innocent, perpetually polite, the ultimate Boston boy who was nicknamed 'Jesus' in high school for his goodness," according to messages from friends on the couple's website.

A friend described his wife, Jessica, a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, as "the funniest, most selfless, and introspective people I knew." The couple has "one of the greatest loves I will encounter in my lifetime," wrote the friend, who attended their wedding in Boston.

Another site, dedicated to 8-year-old Martin Richard, who died in the attack, has so far raised $230,000 for his family. Martin's 7-year-old sister, Jane, who was standing next to him at the time of the blast, lost a leg, and the children's mother, Denise, suffered a severe upper-body injury and underwent brain surgery.

Funds for 27-year-old Jeff Bauman have also poured in through the website GoFundMe.com. Bauman's legs were blown off in the bombing. A photo of his bloodied body being rushed by wheelchair from the scene has become an iconic image of the terrorist attack.

Bauman, who was standing at the finish line waiting for his girlfriend to cross, reportedly helped FBI agents identify suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who Bauman said "looked right at me" as he placed a bag at his feet two minutes before the explosion.

An online fund has also been established for Dave Henneberry, of Watertown, Mass., the owner of the bloodied, bullet-riddled boat that 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev used as a hideout from police. The yacht reportedly cost Henneberry $50,000.

Authorities, meanwhile, are warning people about fake websites that claim to be raising money for victims of the bombing.

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV reported that days after the bombing, a photo of a little girl running a marathon was forwarded around the Internet hundreds of thousands of times, tying the child to a scam related to the Boston terror attacks. The image appeared on a Twitter account called "Hope for Boston," and claimed the 8-year-old girl died in the bombing while running the marathon for victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, according to the station. The image of the girl was actually taken at a race last year -- called The Joe Casella 5k -- that raises money for cancer patients in the Washington, D.C., area.

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