In the shocking aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Tampa, FL based personal injury attorney Joseph Diaco, Jr. felt helpless as he watched the despair of the people in remote cities like Arecibo, Aguadilla and Ponce in Puerto Rico. To combat the hopelessness, Diaco helped formulate a plan to bring aid to areas under a veritable media blackout. Diaco reached out to Rafael Gatzambide, Bubba Clem and the BTLS Foundation to get the word out to local businesses. All were willing and eager to help Diaco make it happen, despite enormous logistical hurdles.
To accomplish the goal, each of them donated services, logistical planning, time, supplies and money. Ana Franco of JJ Aeronautics donated the use of a Citation C500 Eagle Jet as well as pilots, the use of her hanger for supplies and her planning expertise. Rafael Gatzambide offered his unwavering support and his incredible ability to gather cash donations and supplies. Bubba Clem and Diaco Law donated money, used the BTLS Foundation to receive additional cash donation and solicited help on Bubba’s show while Diaco coordinated all of the logistics to make this effort a reality. Donations to date have included significant monetary donations in excess of $40,000.00, medical supplies, food and 1,000 Sawyer Water Filters from Waves for Water, capable of filtering 100,000 gallons of water each for a total capacity of filtering approximately 100,000,000.00 gallons of water.
Cash donations raised by Diaco through the BTLS Foundation are being used to fuel the flights where supplies are brought in and relief workers or medically needy patients are flown back to the United States. To date, two flights have successfully been made and more are planned for the near future. Diligence, empathy and compassion are proving that local people can make a difference one plane at a time.
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