Three months ago, Jack Holder, a Pearl Harbor survivor who flew combat missions over Midway and the English Channel during World War II, lost $43,000 in a sweepstakes scam. This week, he got it all back and then some.
A GoFundMe page created in Holder's name had raised more than $54,500 as of Thursday morning, surpassing its goal of $50,000.
"I’m at a loss for words," Holder told the Arizona Republic. "How in the world will I ever repay people for their graciousness?"
In March, Holder, 94, received a phone call telling him he had won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and would receive $4.7 million and a new Mercedes-Benz. All he needed to do was provide some personal information and open up a new bank account.
Days later, the theives made off with the money, which represented nearly all of Holder and his fiancee's life savings.
"I faced almost five years in combat during the war and made it out alive," Holder told KSAZ last week. "This is the worst tragedy I've ever experienced."
The creator of the GoFundMe page was Shana Schwarz, a 33-year-old mother-of-three who said she had been moved by Holder's story.
"I’m out of work right now,” she told the Republic. “I only donated $25. But I knew I was good with fundraising and I am good with social media. So that’s what I did."
Schwarz set the page up on Friday and kept it up through Memorial Day weekend. The paper reported that Schwarz met Holder for the first time Monday and presented him with a check for the first $19,000. The next day, she handed control of the page to the non-profit Greatest Generations Foundation.
"We don’t want to see anyone go through what Jack did," foundation executive officer Tim Davis told the Republic. "If we can raise a little bit more and help him out, well do it."