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FAST-Aid

FAST-Aid Who Was Falsely Accused of Mishandling Funds is Issued an Apology

MESA, AZ – NOVEMBER 2, 2010:  FAST-Aid quickly and properly responded to all the false allegations over the last week in regards to allocation of funds and total amounts raised for all the victims of the California 200 accident and has accepted the public apology from the accuser. “It is understandable that people have questions, it is unbelievably frustrating that we are spending time rebutting false statements made in a mass public arena when simple questions have answers.  We need to be focused on helping people,” said Jared Tetzlaff, President of FAST-Aid.

A letter of apology has been received from Greg Farkas, who went on NBC San Diego news accusing FAST-Aid of not distributing his family the proper allocation of the absurd amount of monies he claimed were raised and also directly accused FAST-Aid of pocketing cash. “I would like to start by saying that we really thank FAST-Aid and all of the donors for what they have done for our family to help with funeral expenses for our much loved son Aaron,” wrote Greg Farkas, father of Aaron Farkas. “I decided to expose Fast-Aid without proper evidence or proof. That is really out of character for me to say something without knowing it’s a fact. I learned early on that once you say something you can never take it back. That is why I always research things before I comment on them. Well in this case, with emotions running high, and being so angry I let those emotions get the best of me and clouded my logical thinking. For this I truly am sorry for making the accusations without the true facts.”

Communication with the Farkas family initiated immediately after the tragic accident and has been consistently open since, including the offering of opening the books prior to the statements made on television and across the internet.  The opportunity to see the books was denied by the Farkas Family.  Jared Tetzlaff explains that the Farkas family has utilized FAST-Aids assistance beyond the set cap amount, “The urgency of their request for assistance was apparent and FAST-Aid was grateful to be in a position to help with expenses that, had they gone unpaid, would have delayed or prevented Aaron’s funeral services.  This was the first case FAST-Aid had provided financial assistance to ease the burden of a family tragically affected by this accident.  The total bill was nearly $11,350.  Because donations were being given specifically to the California 200 fund, the board approved making this payment on their behalf. “  As FAST-Aid recognized the amount of donations received would level off and in order ensure that all families who applied for assistance would receive financial aid in the most fair and equitable manner possible, they increased the cap to $8,000 in assistance for each person that lost their life, and kept the $5,000 cap for those injured.

The recent allegations came after the Farkas’ were denied the full amount of the headstone, after having a verbal conversation with a board member.  Jared explains, “The cost of the headstone she was requesting Fast-Aid to pay for was nearly $5,000, whereas the average price of headstones Fast-Aid had assisted in purchasing was approximately $1,500.  In an e-mail to the Farkas family on October 20, I explained, ‘Fast-Aid exists to meet needs that would otherwise be unmet or create a financial hardship.  We already increased our cap for assistance to those who lost loved ones.  We then further exceeded our cap for assistance to your family by over $3500 and need to honor our policies set forth to protect our integrity and ability to help ALL families involved with their financial hardships.  We also have a moral obligation to distribute the money raised in the fairest manner possible.  Unfortunately, this sometimes means forgoing luxuries and replacing them with more basic services.’  Cindy, Aarons mother, replied, ‘Please send check as specified on invoice.’ I did not receive a response to a follow-up e-mail, instead I was contacted and told the Farkas family had began to make accusations against Fast-Aid on Facebook and that they had contacted the media.”

These false allegations dramatically stirred up the emotions within the Off Road Family.   Greg Farkas also apologized to the community as a whole in his letter, “I would also like to apologize to the offroad community (which I have been a part of for over 25 years) for letting you guys down and over reacting. This event has created an outrage amongst the community; again I am sorry for that.”

Fast-Aid will continue to operate with the utmost integrity and will continue to be open to answering questions and being as transparent as is practical for those legitimately seeking information.  Although our history as an organization is short, there are numerous people who we have helped that can speak on our behalf regarding our sincere intentions and effectiveness in helping people who truly need assistance. Just as Fast-Aid was helping a crew-member at the time the California 200 accident occurred, we will continue to be ready to assist members of the off-road community in time of crisis in the future.  We will continue to work diligently to educate the off-road community so that any and all safety measures that can be taken are taken, in an effort to prevent accidents and minimize the effects of accidents when they do happen.  We will continue to be advocates for those who are affected by off-road accidents and to assist them in making the fullest recovery possible.

Read the complete Apology Letter by Greg Farkas, and the Response by Jared Tetzlaff:

About FAST-Aid – FAST-Aid has been helping the off road racing community since April 2009 and has been called to assist in many different circumstances.  The board consists of nine racers, crew members, community and industry supporters.  FAST-Aid a non-profit organization with the sole purpose of supplying financial and emotional assistance to off-roaders injured at racing events. http://www.fast-aid.org

Complete Memorial Service at 2010 Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo: http://vimeo.com/15978439

News outlets covering this story may contact media@fast-aid.org for more information. Fast-Aid is asking all news outlets to get this information out to the public who wish to make donations.   If you would like more information about FAST Aid or this accident, please call Charlene Bower at 714-394-1716 or email Charlene at charlene@bowermedia.com

______________________

COMPLETE APOLOGY LETTER BY GREG FARKAS

10-27-2010

Greg Farkas

Farkas Family

Fast-Aid

Attn:  Jared Tetzlaff

Pat Bailey

Dear Pat and Jared,

I would like to start by saying that we really thank Fast-Aid and all of the donors for what they have done for our family to help with funeral expenses for our much loved son Aaron

When we first heard about Fast-Aid we were really skeptical because right after the accident we were contacted by several attorneys and ambulance chasers and here you were offering to pay for our funeral expenses. We thought “wow” that is really awesome. Well my daughter talked to Adam and we were pleasantly surprised that Fast-Aid was actually doing what they said. We were very appreciative and went on the fund raising tour to help raise awareness and promote Fast-Aid.

Over the next few weeks we were hearing that a huge amount of money was being raised . Everywhere we went it was the talk of the town and off road community. We even had our family members and business colleagues donate to Fast-Aid in lieu of flowers and they were proud to do it.

Well this is where it gets confusing. Things were said by Fast-Aid members (I’m sure in good faith) and we assumed some things (in good faith) were correct like the dollar amount raised that we had been hearing and what was going to be paid. One of the members said for us to get the invoice in for the headstone. Well when we did get the invoice in it was rejected and we started feeling like Fast-Aid was not distributing the funds like the donors would want and not living up to what they had said. So I was asking around at the race last weekend and I just starting getting angry and started doubting Fast-Aids true intentions. Putting that together with the last figure I heard ($460,000) raised and the cap that was in place I suspected either the money was going into the general fund or being moved into other accounts that were not for the victims.  So I got even more angry!  That is when I decided to expose Fast-Aid without proper evidence or proof. That is really out of character for me to say something without knowing it’s a fact. I learned early on that once you say something you can never take it back. That is why I always research things before I comment on them. Well in this case with emotions running high and being so angry I let those emotions get the best of me and clouded my logical thinking. For this I truly am sorry for making the accusations without the true facts.

Pat Bailey and I had some really good communication on Tuesday and Jared and I had some really good communications on Tuesday night and after talking with both of them and getting more realistic information I really feel that Fast-Aids intentions are truly sincere. Again I am sorry for over reacting and letting my emotions take over my logical thinking. Again this is out of character for me. I usually think things out prior to saying it.

I would also like to apologize to the offroad community (which I have been a part of for over 25 years) for letting you guys down and over reacting. This event has created an outrage amongst the community; again I am sorry for that (I am not a drama queen).  There were a lot of negative things said and even a death threat called in to my work place, whoever that was that made that call should probably apologize too. Pat, Jared and I all agree that that is going over board and should not be tolerated by anybody with clear heads. Sorry to all of you

I would also like to mention that our family has been to numerous fund raisers and even organized one fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars which is going to the families. We are not greedy people!! We have given more then we have taken and don’t want anybody to think otherwise. Again I am extremely sorry for all the drama and the pain I caused the community and Fast-Aid.

I would also like to thank JPBart on Race desert for having such a level head and posting that very calm and logical post amongst all of the negative ones(page 15). That was the turning point for me even though I didn’t respond to it, your post was brought up between Pat, Jared and I and looking back that’s when it hit me. Thanks JPBart

Pat and Jared thanks for accepting my apology and the Farkas’ want you to know we are 110% behind Fast-Aid and look forward to moving forward in a positive and professional way. I think you guys are great and after talking at length I really do believe your intentions are sincere. You guys and the community are true heroes. I wish I would have talked with you first.

Respectfully

Greg Farkas

Farkas Family

_______________________

COMPLETE Fast-Aid Response to Farkas Apology:

On October 25, I received a phone call from a news reporter in San Diego who had been contacted by Greg Farkas with concerns regarding how Fast-Aid was handling the money raised for the families affected by the tragic California 200 Accident.  Prior to this, I had been in contact with various members of the Farkas family starting just a few days after the accident.  The Farkas family contacted Fast-Aid requesting financial assistance to pay for mortuary expenses related the loss of Aaron Farkas in the accident and a member of the family completed the standard Fast-Aid application for assistance.  The Fast-Aid application for assistance clearly states that the cap set for assistance is $5,000.  This cap had been previously set based on the limited budget Fast-Aid was operating under.  The urgency of their request for assistance was apparent and Fast-Aid was grateful to be in a position to help with expenses that, had they gone unpaid, would have delayed or prevented Aaron’s funeral services.  This was the first case Fast-Aid had provided financial assistance to ease the burden of a family tragically affected by this accident.  The total bill was nearly $11,350.  Because donations were being given specifically to the California 200 fund, the board approved making this payment on their behalf.  I contacted the Farkas family and let them know the bill would be taken care of.

Within days after committing to pay the mortuary bill on behalf of the Farkas family, it became readily apparent to the board that the needs of families who lost loved ones or were injured in this crash would be substantial.  The board made the decision to adjust the standard cap for assistance due to the large number of donations and unique circumstances surrounding those killed in this accident.  In order ensure that all families who applied for assistance would receive that financial aid in the most fair and equitable manner possible, we increased the cap to $8,000 in assistance for each person that lost their life, and keep the $5,000 cap for those injured.

The Farkas family responded with great appreciation and attended numerous fundraising events in support of Fast-Aid as we continued to raise awareness of the needs of the families and continued to hand out assistance.  Towards the end of September, I received a request from the Farkas family that more funds be released to pay for a headstone for Aaron.  I telephoned Aaron’s mother Cindy and I informed her that the initial expenses paid by Fast-Aid exceeded the cap we set, but we paid the bill because we had committed to paying it.  I went on to explain the system in place for disbursement of the funds and the reason for the caps we had set.  In an e-mail response, Cindy indicated she was under the impression from talking to another board member that the cost of the headstone would be covered.  The cost of the headstone she was requesting Fast-Aid to pay for was nearly $5,000, whereas the average price of headstones Fast-Aid had assisted in purchasing was approximately $1,500.  In an e-mail to the Farkas family on October 20, I explained, “Fast-Aid exists to meet needs that would otherwise be unmet or create a financial hardship.  We already increased our cap for assistance to those who lost loved ones.  We then further exceeded our cap for assistance to your family by over $3500 and need to honor our policies set forth to protect our integrity and ability to help ALL families involved with their financial hardships.  We also have a moral obligation to distribute the money raised in the fairest manner possible.  Unfortunately, this sometimes means forgoing luxuries and replacing them with more basic services.”  I explained in the e-mail that there was another family who lost a son who did not use the entire cap amount and the board had approved paying up to $1,500 towards a headstone for Aaron and Cindy replied, “Please send check as specified on invoice.”  Cindy went on to say in another e-mail, “I feel that my family has been lied to and deceived by the Fast Aid organization.  Fast Aid representatives told me personally that all expenses related to Aaron would be covered in full, “anything you need” – “this is what our fund is set up to do”.   Fast Aid has raised a huge amount of money, and if not being spent on the CA 200 Victims as people were told it would be, it certainly raises concern.   I think that when others find out, and they will find out, that the CA 200 Victims, specifically the 8 kids who were killed, families are being set a very low cap for all their expenses, the people and corporations who have generously donated will be very, very upset.   Just like me.  I ask that Fast Aid reconsider and pay our invoice in full.”

I did not receive a response to this e-mail or a follow-up e-mail on October 25 offering this same thing.  I was contacted at work while participating in the funeral of a fallen police officer and told the Farkas family had begun to make accusations against Fast-Aid on Facebook and that they had contacted the media.  Additionally, mutual friends of Fast-Aid and the Farkas family had urged Greg Farkas contact Fast-Aid in order to arrange a time to review our financial records to see exactly how much had been raised and that the money raised for the California 200 fund was being distributed.  This invitation was not accepted and a short time later, I was contacted by the news station from San Diego.  At this time, I was advised of the specific allegations that Fast-Aid had raised nearly $500,000 and was not giving the money out as we had committed to doing.  I participated in a telephone interview with the reporter and answered these allegations.  These un-based and false accusations began a barrage of questions and conversations via telephone calls, social media, and other online forums which inhibited the ability of the all –volunteer board of directors to accomplish our mission which is helping those affected by off-road accidents.

Ultimately on October 27, Mr. Farkas was able to have a conversation with our Co-Founder, Patrick Dailey and began to have some of his questions answered.  This led to a conversation between myself and Mr. Farkas during which time I was able to learn why he misunderstood many of the facts.  This conversation was cordial and very productive.  Mr. Farkas apologized numerous times for making accusations based on misinformation he had received.  After speaking with him, I believed his statements that he was acting out of grief and anger and believe in the sincerity of his apology.  Both personally, and behalf of the Board of Directors, I accepted Mr. Farkas apology and committed to him that we as an organization will continue to do everything in our power to assist the families who need our help and to communicate in clear and effective manner.  Mr. Farkas and I both agreed that we desire to move forward in a positive manner and that the number one priority for all of us in the off-road community must be to honor the memories of those who lost their lives and take care of the off-road family we still have with us.

Fast-Aid will continue to operate with the utmost integrity and will continue to be open to answering questions and being as transparent as is practicable for those legitimately seeking information.  Although our history as an organization is short, there are numerous people who we have helped that can speak on our behalf regarding our sincere intentions and effectiveness in helping people who truly need assistance.  This list of people continues to grow as we continue to mail checks to pay bills for racers, crew-members, media, and families affected by the California 200 accident.

Just as Fast-Aid was helping a crew-member at the time the California 200 accident occurred, we will continue to be ready to assist members of the off-road community in time of crisis in the future.  We will continue to work diligently to educate the off-road community so that any and all safety measures that can be taken are taken, in an effort to prevent accidents and minimize the effects of accidents when they do happen.  We will continue to be advocates for those who are affected by off-road accidents to assist them in making the fullest recovery possible.  That is why we started Fast-Aid over a year ago, and now more than ever, we believe in the value of what we are doing and the purpose of this organization.

WWW.FAST-AID.ORG

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