ATHENS — When it comes to reaching out and supporting Devon Gales, the Bulldog Nation is crushing it. Unfortunately for the Triumph Over Tragedy Foundation, they also crushed their website in the process.
The organization that has pledged to build a new home for the paralyzed football player took a leap of faith when it made a live announcement to that effect at Gales’ news conference this past Wednesday on the UGA campus. And apparently, a great number of people were attuned and receptive.
Almost immediately the website www.givetotriumph.org crashed. And even after some quick and significant upgrades from GoDaddy.com, the site continued to go down.
“We just did not anticipate the level of traffic we got,” said Reggie Jones, co-founder of Triumph Over Tragedy along with his brother Wesley. “It went down eight times the first day. After the second time it went down, we called GoDaddy back and said, ‘ramp us up to the highest level of bandwidth that you can get.’ They said ‘great’ and they did it in a matter of minutes, then it proceeded to go down six more times.'”
Because the site crashed, the counter on the site also was down, so there is simply no way of knowing how many people visited — or how many potential donors they missed.
“Are you trying to make me cry?” said Jones, when asked to estimate how much money they might have lost during the outages. “There’s no doubt that we missed out on a big opportunity. … We’re definitely probably going to lose some of those impulse people who ran to the website to donate and it was not up. So we realize that was a definitely a misstep. But we hope that it’s such a good cause that people will continue to support it. Hopefully the story will continue to carry momentum. People are still sending us messages about it.”
The good news is the website issue has been fixed. GoDaddy has now moved the Triumph Over Tragedy website to its own dedicated server.
“Since we’ve done that — knock on wood — the site hasn’t gone down,” Reggie Jones said. “Wes and I were both pretty paranoid about it and kept checking it all weekend. We continue take shirt orders and donations to continue to pour in.”
Here’s a few more facts regarding Triumph Over Tragedy’s initiative to build Gales and his family a brand new, handicap-accessible home in Baton Rouge:
- Jones said despite the outages they raised $25,000 that first day.
- Though they certainly missed out on hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of donations, Jones has no doubt they will reach their goal and be able to build the Gales family a new home. “I don’t think it will be a problem at all. We foresee breaking ground on the house here pretty quickly.”
- Gales is not the only spinal-cord-injury victim that Triumph Over Tragedy assists. They work closely with Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, which treats about 900 patients a year. “We’ve helped a lot of people,” Jones said. “Most of them just aren’t as high-profile as Devon.”
- The main mode of fundraising for Gales’ cause people to buy the shirts that spell out Gales with Georgia’s “Power G” as the first letter. The T-shirts sell on the website for $20 and the hoodies are $40. But the website accepts donations of any sort or amount. Go HERE to donate or buy the shirts.
- Gales’ story and Triumph Over Tragedy’s initiative has attracted national attention. Jones said CBS News and Fox News have requested studio interviews as well a several other media outlets. All the interviews will eventually be posted to the website.
- The story of Reggie and Wesley Jones is powerful in its own right. Wesley, Reggie’s younger brother, broke his neck in an accident while the two were playing in the woods in 1987. You can read about it on their site.
- For years, Wesley starred in an outdoor adventure TV show called “Unlimited Outdoors” on the Great American Country Network. However, an accident ejected Wesley from his wheelchair and landed back in the hospital and on a ventilator. After that the brothers formed the 501C3 Triumph Over Tragedy and concentrated their efforts on assisting other spinal-cord patients. Specifically they concentrate on the transition from hospital to everyday life at home, which they describe as the most difficult part of the process.
- Best way to follow the progress of this story and share with your friends is on the Triumph Over Tragedy Facebook Page.