Long-haul COVID patients question fundraiser organizer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City-area woman who has become the long-term national face of the COVID community is now under surveillance.
Some say she could fool the very people she claims to help.
FOX4 Problem Solvers traveled to a ramshackle trailer in rural Kansas to get answers from Amanda Finley. She’s been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, USA Today, local radio stations and even on FOX4 – talking about her struggle to live a normal life with long-term COVID symptoms.
“It’s a nightmare. Many of us are homeless. We are not able to find work. It takes forever to become disabled. People are starving themselves. They are going without medicine,” said Finley at FOX4 in August.
But since then, some long haulers are speaking out, saying they no longer believe Finley. They wonder who she is really collecting money for.
“When I put the two and the two together, I saw all of her GoFundMes at once,” Cynthia Adinig said. “She claims she is homeless.”
Adinig, who has long-term COVID symptoms, met Finley on a Facebook group Finley started for long-term COVID survivors. It has over 14,000 members. Right away, Adinig said she had questions about Finley.
“Some of the things she was saying just didn’t make sense,” Adinig said.
For starters, Finley’s background is unusual. She claims to be an archaeologist, opera singer, and licensed practical nurse.
But Adinig said she was really worried when Finley kept asking everyone in the Facebook group for money.
In total, Finley has at least eight GoFundMe and other crowdfunding accounts: three to raise money for his own fight against COVID-19, three to regain custody of his son, and two for a man named Jake who, according to Finley, was nearly homeless due to COVID.
So many of Finley’s posts are a plea for money that some long-haulers have started complaining.
Finley told band members and FOX4 that COVID-19 crowdfunding accounts alone raised more than $15,000 — money she said she shared with those struggling.
Critics have also begun to question what Finley posts on social media.
For example, she shared the story of a young registered nurse named Maddy Rose. Finley said Maddy was hospitalized in South Dakota with long-term COVID-19 complications. She also shared messages from a medical assistant named Jill, who was caring for Maddy. Finley frequently posted about them both.
Finley even asked actress Morgan Fairchild to send Maddy a video wishing her well.
Then one day, Finley broke the sad news of Maddy’s death. This surprised many long haulers who know how rare death is in their community, especially the death of someone so young.
People grew suspicious when they couldn’t find an obituary. They couldn’t even find a registered nurse in South Dakota named Maddy Rose, nor could they find Maddy’s friend, Jill.
“As soon as we started asking questions, both Maddy’s account and Jill’s account were deleted,” Adinig said.
FOX4 has however verified the existence of Jake, who has since died. Finley has launched two online fundraisers for him.
But then there’s the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that Finley started, COVID-19 Long Haul Awareness. She encouraged people to use it to make tax-deductible donations to help other long-haulers.
Except that Problem Solvers couldn’t find the charity in the IRS database.
It’s just one of the many reasons FOX4 visited Finley at her home in Leona, Kansas, in hopes of getting some answers.
Finley said GoFundMe accounts are mostly created by other people.
“I I didn’t want it, and that money that was given to me went right back into the community because I don’t feel good about taking money from that community,” she said.
Finley said she kept track of everything, so Problem Solvers asked to see them. She couldn’t find them on her computer but promised to send them to us later. We never received anything.
As for the nonprofit, Finley said she has a friend who takes care of it.
“No, the person I had asked to do this, I don’t know,” she said. “I just let her have it.”
The problem solvers asked to speak to this friend to find out what had happened to the association. Finley promised to put us in touch with her but never did.
Finally, we wanted to know who Maddy really was and why people had such a hard time finding proof of her existence.
What Finley said might surprise some since she shared dozens of posts about Maddy and Jill.
“I don’t know anything about Maddy,” Finley told FOX4. “I would have liked to know more about Maddy, but that is not the case.
And as for those who believe it was Finley impersonating Maddy, Finley had this to say, “Yes, some people do. It would be a colossal waste of time. I mean we have serious work to do.
She is focused on helping members of the COVID community long-term, but some members of that group have said they no longer want Finley’s help.
“Amanda destroyed the trust of her own community,” Adinig said.
But Finley insists all she does is dedicate her life to raising awareness of the long-term effects of a serious illness.
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