Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, presented a very special surprise at the home of Catherine McCoy on the morning of Christmas Eve. Funds from JAFF will help McCoy bring the remains of her daughter, Stephanie Tyson, back to the U.S.
Stephanie Tyson, 26, died in the United Kingdom. Her family is now able to bring her home thanks to funds from JAFF and the Noonan Syndrome Foundation.
The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters raised $3,160 to help Catherine McCoy bring the remains of her daughter, Stephanie Tyson, home to the U.S.
UPDATE (Dec. 24) -- Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, presented a very special surprise at the home of Catherine McCoy on the morning of Christmas Eve.
"We were able to raise you $3,160 to get your daughter back," Wyse explained as he presented McCoy with a check. Upwards of 50 people gave, according to Wyse, including one donor who gave more than $1,000. "We hope that this can help you put some closure to this." (Watch the full heartwarming presentation here)
McCoy put her hand to her mouth in shock and gasped. "It's such a relief. I know we're going to get her home," McCoy said through tears. She tried to thank JAFF and the community that made this possible, but was at a loss for words. "The outpouring, the generosity, the caring. I don't know how to say thank you to everybody."
JAFF put up $500 of their own money Dec. 20, then set up a donation effort. Wyse said the donations came flooding in, some coming all the way from Georgia. "That's why we started this about three or four years ago, we started the Jacksonville Firefighters charities for this exact reason ... to be able to help people."
McCoy said this was the family's Christmas wish.
"For this to occur, it obviously touched our hearts," Wyse added. "The firefighters stepped up and were able to help them out. We just hope that the McCoys are able to have some peace through this time and maybe a little bit of cheer. Going through a difficult time, but again, helping their daughter reach their goal of getting their daughter home."
Julie Jancius, CEO of the Noonan Syndrome Foundation, also had some good news for the McCoy family: The foundation has raised $1,130 to help bring the body of their daughter, Stephanie Tyson, home.
Jancius also told First Coast News that the McCoys will be able to attend the Noonan Syndrome Foundation's conference in Clearwater in July for free.
UPDATE (Dec. 20): The day the McCoys' story hit the airwaves, the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters stepped up to help.
"As firefighters, when we put on our uniforms and we dedicate our careers to the city, we know that it's about giving back to the community as well," said Mark Treglio, Public Information Officer for JAFF.
JAFF will donate the first $500 to the $3,000 that the family needs to return the body of their daughter, 26-year-old Stephanie Tyson, from the UK to the US for burial.
When the McCoy's learned of JAFF's donation effort, Catherine began to cry, explaining she couldn't hold back her tears any more. "Oh, that's wonderful. Oh, I love them guys. Oh God, that's ... that's wonderful. Thank you"
"In a situation like this, you can never replace a family member," Treglio added, "We're just hoping to provide some comfort and help get a resolution to this situation so that they can get their daughter home."
A link for others in the community to donate to help bring Tyson home has been set up JFRD.com. Anyone can make a tax deductible donation 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the McCoys.
In order to transport Tyson back to Florida, it will cost roughly $3,000, according to Catherine McCoy. The donation page will be up will be to help the family through the holidays, bring Tyson's remains home and whatever else they need to get by.
DONATE to help the McCoys here
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Dec. 19) -- One local family has a unique wish this Holiday. They want the body of their 26-year-old daughter returned home.
Stephanie Tyson, the McCoy's daughter, saved for a year to take a trip to London. The day after Tyson arrived in England on Dec. 8, she died of a heart attack.
"She was a beautiful soul," her mother, Catherine McCoy emotionally explained. Tyson, lived with Noonan syndrome. According to the US National Library of Medicine, Noonan syndrome is an inherited condition affecting much of the body. "She had severe deformities, clubbed feet, double-curve scoliosis," McCoy explained, "she had an enlarged heart."
Tyson had saved up about $2,000 over a year for a month-long trip of a lifetime to the United Kingdom where she planned to stay with friends. "It was an incredible opportunity for her to go somewhere," McCoy added, "she's never been anywhere."
Finances and issues related to Tyson's death occurring overseas are preventing the McCoy's from bringing her body home. "I don't even know how I'm even going to get her back," McCoy said with tears in her eyes.
In order to transport Tyson back to Florida it will cost roughly $3,000 according to McCoy. "I just want my baby home."
According to the US Department of State, when a U.S. citizen dies abroad, the Bureau of Consular Affairs will find and inform next-of-kin of the citizen's death. The bureau will also tell families how to make arrangements for local burial or how to return the remains to the U.S. Spokesperson Laura Seal released the following statement:
"We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the U.S. citizen who died tragically in the United Kingdom.
Out of respect for the privacy of those affected, we have no further comment.
We are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance."
"The embassy's been working with us," McCoy said. "They've been wonderful. Extremely kind."
If you find yourself in a similar situation, the U.S. Department of State offered the following tips:
1. Find the closest U.S. embassy or consulate to your loved one.
2. Tell them a loved one has passed away.
3. Someone will be assigned to help your family.
4. If you need help, call 1-888-407-4747 within the U.S. to reach the State Department's Overseas Services section. From outside the U.S., call 1-202-501-4444.
For more detailed information on what to do when a loved one dies abroad, visit the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
First Coast News