By Zachary Matson
A GoFundMe page launched Thursday seeks to raise money for the medical bills – and a trip to Paris – for a pair of Niskayuna hikers rescued from Algonquin Peak on Tuesday.
Maddie Popolizio, 19, and Blake Alois, 20, both recent Niskayuna High School graduates, were rescued Tuesday afternoon after spending two nights stranded near the summit of the state’s second-highest peak.
The account that set up the fundraising page, which has a goal of $10,000, appears to be Popolizio’s sister, Elizabeth Mae. She wrote on the GoFundMe page: “They are not asking for this, but after witnessing what they went through, I believe they deserve it.” The sister also wrote on her Facebook page that the hope was to donate part of the money raised to the people who helped save the hikers.
Alois’ mom, Doris, said they were not involved with the page. She said her family had good insurance to cover their medical expenses but that she could not speak for Popolizio’s situation.
“We did not ask for it or put it on or anything; people out there wanted to do something nice for them,” Doris Alois said.
Within minutes of being posted, people commenting on social media ripped the fundraiser, particularly the suggestion that the money would be used for a trip to Paris. While stranded on the mountain, the couple discussed future plans to help them get through hunger, exhaustion and bitter cold; they talked about taking a trip to Paris, Popolizio said in an interview from her hospital room Tuesday night.
Some commenters pointed out that the search-and-rescue effort that saved them would have cost thousands of dollars.
“Yeah, I already gave them some of my tax dollars, which I was happy to do,” Diana Bigglesworth Niland posted, referring to the cost of the rescue mission. “This not so much.”
Some of the posters were far more vicious. One posted a fake website name: IwasillpreparedsonowIwanttogotoparisonyourdime.com.
Within three hours, 10 people had contributed a combined $355 through the GoFundMe page.