O'Connell Family Relief Fund

$4,030 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 48 people in 35 months
Charlie O'Connell, a local paramedic, and his fiancée Nicole Budnic, an EMT and teacher, have dedicated their lives to helping others. Now their family is in need of our help. On November 12, 2013 Charlie's family lost their house and their family business to a devastating fire. The family of 5 is struggling and needs our help as they try to start over and rebuild their lives. Charlie and Nicole have drained the savings for their own wedding to help support the family and are low on funds themselves.

How can I help?
1. Make a monetary donation here! Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated!

2. Come to the event! We invite you to come out for a night of fun supporting this great cause and benefiting these wonderful people. The fundraiser will be hosted a PJ's Pub in Thousand Oaks on December 1st, 2013. Stop by the bar anywhere from 2:30 pm until close! The event is strictly based on donations so we ask that you make a $5 per person contribution at the door. Please see the facebook event for more details ( https://www.facebook.com/events/654153881273522/) or contact Charlie, Nicole, or myself!

3. Share the story!
You can post this site to Pinterest, put it on your Facebook newsfeed, email your coworkers... we just need help spreading the word! We need prayers, positive thoughts, momentum, and continued support. So if you can't make a donation, please help us by spreading the word!

With your help, we are trying to raise at least $3,000. We know that we can come together as a community, and help give back to two people who live to protect and aid us. What better time than Thanksgiving to show your support? Any and all donations are greatly appreciated! Thank you for your help, your prayers, and your continued support through this time!
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Update 6
35 months ago

From the bottom of both Charlie and my heart, we want to thank you all for your donations. No matter how big or small, it means the absolute world to us for your graciousness to the O'Connell family during this holiday season. We were talking about it the other day and we wish we could shake each persons hand and give them a huge hug on behalf of his parents, and we will make an effort to do so in the future. But for now I would just like to give the biggest thank you to all of you for everything, it's something that can never be re-paid.
Love Nicole
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Update 5
35 months ago

Posted to Facebook by Charlie's mom, Holly:

"I do not even know where to start, other than to say my family and I are so amazed and appreciative of all the kindness and generosity that everyone has shown us in our time of need. This is going to be a very long sad road for us. I plan to get back to everyone in the next few days that has, called, messaged, emailed or texted me. We are currently taking each day as it comes. The loss of our babies has hit us hard and we just now are starting to realize the magnitude of our problems. These babies were all whelped in our bed and very much a part of our family and in our hearts. There is not a night that I do not have trouble getting to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night and think about them.

Right now I am trying to keep life as normal as possible for Shea, I sent Shea to the Concord Cluster last weekend so that she did not have to be at the house seeing all the destruction. Shea got to take her mind off all the heartache last weekend when GCH Blue Chi's Pip-Squeak "Squirt" earned her Silver Grand Champion title and went Best of Variety two out of the three days, one of which was at The Central Carolina Chihuahua Club Supported Entry where she earned her Silver Grand Champion title. Blue Chi's Lollipop went winners bitch on Friday. Sean saved Squirt and Shea saved Lollipop. Shea will still be working as Russella's assistant at the shows to keep her life as unaffected as possible. Shea is only 15 and is absolutely incredible and if it was not for her we would have lost almost everyone. Shea is a true hero. Shea went back into the smoke filled house and got out all but one that was in our kitchen. She opened the door to let everyone out and no one got up, usually you have to hold them back so they do not get out. She managed to keep everyone on the big dog bed pillow and pull them out through the breezeway out on to the side patio and driveway. Once she got them out they started to run back in trying to get away from the cold ice mix that was coming down. At that point she had to gather them up and get them into the dog yard so that the gates could be opened to allow the fire department in. The one she could not get, Duchess that was hiding underneath the furniture managed to make it out after the fire department was finished inside. Duchess was put on oxygen and had labored breathing for a few days but she is doing great now.

When I smelt the faint smell of smoke, I went looking to see where it was coming from, my son, Sean had just gotten out the portable heater and I assumed that it was it since it was the first time turned on since last years. I went in to tell him to be careful with it and found that was not where it was coming from. I went looking for it and yelled for Sean, he went down to the dog room and discovered it was smoke filled to the point where you could not see, the fire alarms were going off in the dog room, he tried to let all the dogs out but it was silent, no one came and he could not put his hands on anyone. He opened the window further trying to let more fresh air in. He could not get back to the fire to put it out to buy more time so he could get the dogs out. Sean said he could barely breath and thought several times that he was going to blackout himself. He then ran upstairs falling over doggie gates the whole way hoping he could get the ones out that were in our bedroom. Shea had managed to get the ones in the kitchen out by this time, the fire alarms were now going off on this floor and the whole upstairs 1st and 2nd floor were engulfed in smoke to the point you could not see or breath. It went from no smoke to not being able to see or breath in less than a minute. The power was also out from the fire. Sean managed to save only one that was upstairs on the second floor. He tossed Squirt from the second story down to Sean, our son. Sean kept going back in from the roof after trying to get air to find our retired girls that were in our bedroom. He could not find anyone, no one came when called. Most were later found under the bed.

The fire department finally arrived. We begged them to go in for the dogs, they would NOT. We were told it was NOT A HUMAN LIFE. Sean begged for a respirator so that he could go back in to find the dogs, they threatened to arrest him if he tried to. We were forced to stand outside the property gates and just watch as our babies died and our house burned. We have never felt so helpless in all our lives.

You think that you have your exit plan in place and that it is a good one but until something happens, you will never know. You can guarantee it will not go as planned. When we moved to High Point 4 years ago, the fully finished basement was going to be a temporary situation until we could finish the other building. A few weeks after we moved in, a tornado touched down only two miles from our house and leveled homes for almost a square mile. The thought of our dogs potentially being in a separate building where we could not get to them scared us. We decided that the converted basement was the safest place for them. Only a few minutes went by from the time the initial tornado sirens went off until it touched down. We could not risk not being able to get our babies to safety, this is when we decided they were safest down stairs. The fire started in storage behind them, the door leading out was NOT blocked, the windows were partially open, the smoke alarms was going off but not heard, the dogs never barked. The fire never reached them, it went up and ended burning up through the living room floor and going up from there. If it was not for the blinding, chocking thick smoke that filled every part of the house so quickly I truly think that we could have gotten everyone out.

I tried calling 911 from my touch screen phone, I could not get it to dial. The wet ice mix and the cold air would not allow me, it froze my screen and made it flicker and blink. I had to run to the neighbor's house across the street to get them to call the fire department.

I pray that no one will ever have to suffer the pain that we feel over the loss of our babies. My family and I are thankful for all the love and support of family friends, dog show friends and just kind people that are in our lives."
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Update 4
35 months ago

We have surpassed the $2,000 mark in contributions! $2,145 raised in 9 days.

Over 800 people have viewed this site. And this site has been shared over 170 times via social media. Your efforts are spectacular. In a world when social media has become the norm, but is also muddled with garbage and endless amounts of self righteousness, I am proud to say that we have used the power of media positively to help heal.

Thank you so much to everyone that has helped: everyone who has prayed, sent positive thoughts, sent heartfelt messages, and shared The O'Connell family story!

***Also, if you are interested in participating in the Fundraiser event which we are holding on December 1st, please follow the link ( https://www.facebook.com/events/654153881273522/?ref=2&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming) to the Facebook event page or contact Nicole, Charlie, or myself for more details.

Thank you!
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Update 3
35 months ago

Charlie shared this video and link last week. If you would like to see the update, please click below and watch the news snip. The devastation is hard to see.


Thank you all for your help and your contributions. These wonderful gestures are so uplifting, and I am blown away with the generosity. Charlie, Nicole, and Family - we support you!
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$4,030 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 48 people in 35 months
Created November 13, 2013
Kartik Patel
34 months ago
Fundraiser Earnings!!!
34 months ago

Thank you to all who showed up to PJ's Pub and donated the other day! Your support and contributions were nothing short of amazing and my family and I are eternally indebted to you all!

Pamela Sauceda
35 months ago
Brigitte Wolfram
35 months ago
Virgil Budnic
35 months ago

I hope to donate more a little later. Your effort will be appreciated, and every little amount of money counts. God bless you guys for your dedication.

35 months ago
Andrew & Zara
35 months ago

Nicole & Charlie, the generosity of you both is nothing short of inspiring. Love you both!

35 months ago
Judy Schleghorn
35 months ago
The Katt Family
35 months ago
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