BAFB family struck by tragedy receives outpouring of support

BAFB family struck by tragedy receives outpouring of support

BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - The Fourth of July holiday came and went as Airman Mike Romanyak, his wife Stefani, and young daughter are still trying to make their way home. 
The Romanyak's are still in Louisville, KY recovering from injuries suffered in a wreck on Interstate 71, and mourning Mike's 10-year-old step-daughter: the only fatality in the horrific crash.

After visiting family in upstate New York, their SUV was badly mangled in a nine-vehicle pileup north of Campbellsburg, KY. The family had difficulty finding a rental over the holiday weekend.

Thousands of people have responded to an initial post about the wreck on Facebook.

Edwin Pfaff, who identified himself as an Army medic in the Louisville area, offered to drive Mike and his family wherever they needed to go.

When contacted by our sister station, WAVE 3 News, Pfaff confirmed that he would be driving the family to Mississippi - where Stefani is from - but he declined to give an interview, saying he didn't want to bring attention to himself. He said he only hoped someone would do the same for him if he were in the same situation.

According to Stefani's mother, Debbie, Mike has been re-admitted to the University of Louisville hospital, KentuckyOne Health, for further evaluation.

Debbie says the family's plans to travel to Mississippi are on hold until Mike has been released from the hospital.

Sunnie Tobias, who graduated from high school with Mike in Attica, NY, started a GoFundMe account to help raise money for the Romanyak family as well as the other two families involved.

The fundraiser opened on July 1, the day of the accident, with a goal of $3,000. By July 4, she had raised nearly $15,000. Currently the account has raised almost $20,000.

In a phone interview with KSLA News 12, Tobias used the words "jaw-dropping" and "grateful" for the outpouring of support.

"You don't need to know somebody to know what tragedy feels like and understanding that $5 will go a long way," said Tobias. "I don't want any 'thanks' for this. I did this because Mike is a part of our community and our family and I would really hope that should something like this ever happen to us that someone would do the same thing."

The donations started coming in mostly from their hometown, but Tobias found herself in awe as the story quickly spread on social media, with donations pouring in from states like Alabama and Mississippi.

"It's great to see that people care and people do support our military and just a solid family foundation," said Tobias.

The goal, Tobias said, is to make sure that financial worries don't add to the family's pain as they deal with the loss of their daughter.

"It stared out small, Mike was from our community, we were helping a friend, and then it grew at an unbelievable rate," said Tobias. "We just really want people to know that whatever we raise is going to the entire family, not just Mike."

Funds from the GoFundMe account will go to the Romanyak family as well as the biological fathers of the children involved.

The Romanyak's attend The Simple Church and community pastor Bryan Reed says they church will meet on Tuesday to come up with a specific game plan for how they can help the Romanyak's.

Right now, they're providing spiritual and emotional support.

"We have a prayer team of about 200 people that are praying now for this family, we're just trying to find ways that we can help them practically, emotionally and spiritually," said Reed.

Trey McGuire is the founder and director of "The Warrior Network" which is a network of local churches, community partners that is in place to meet the needs of Barksdale Airmen.

McGuire does not know the Romanyak's personally, but is among the many who are helping. He does not want credit for helping and says it's not about us, it's about them.

"There is a God who loves them through this whole process and also there's a community here, Barksdale and Shreveport/Bossier that is here for them, cares for them and supporting them," said McGuire.

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