Doug Stanhope Raised More Than $125,000 for Atheist Tornado Survivor

Comedian Doug Stanhope, a Bisbee resident, ended up raising more than $125,000 for a woman whose house was destroyed in the Oklahoma tornado in May.

Stanhope told New Times that he started raising funds for Rebecca Vitsmun after the widely seen interview on CNN in which anchor Wolf Blitzer asked her if she "thank[ed] the Lord" for her family's decision to leave their house before it was destroyed by the tornado. Vitsmun's much-replayed response -- she's actually an atheist.

See also:
Doug Stanhope Raising Thousands for Tornado Survior

Stanhope, who has taken jabs at religion in his comedy material and in public, started raising funds on a website with the hopes of getting $50,000 for Vitsum.

That fundraising goal was surpassed pretty quickly -- he hadn't even gotten into contact with Vitsum until he'd already raised $50,000 -- and the website he used didn't allow him to change the end date of the fundraiser from July 22.

So, he set a newer goal.

"There is no reason for us to stop raising funds," he wrote. "The median cost of a home in Moore, OK is $125,250, and that was back when they had homes."

Stanhope's "Atheists Unite" campaign raised $125,760, although it was a little short of his most ambitious fundraising goal, $6.1 trillion.

Several people got "perks" from Stanhope for donating certain amounts, which were hilarious (but not hilarious if you're touchy about religion). One person donated more than $2,500, earning their "first choice for reincarnation" (because "all those eagle & dolphin spots go fast").

There were actually other people raising funds for Vitsum, too, after her CNN appearance, so she might be a little better off than her God-fearing neighbors.

Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley