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GoFundMe effort in honor of Uvalde couple raises more than $2.6 million in four days

The campaign, which quickly surpassed its initial goal of $10,000, has raised its funds from more than 46,000 donations.
Joe and Irma Garcia.
Joe Garcia had been married to his high school sweetheart, Irma, for 24 years before she was gunned down at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. He collapsed and died Thursday while he was preparing for his wife's funeral, the family said.@Fuhknjo via Twitter

A GoFundMe campaign started in honor of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed in the Texas school shooting, and her husband, Joe, who died Thursday, has raised more than $2.6 million in just four days.

Debra Austin, Irma's cousin, apparently started the campaign, which has also been covered by other national outlets, including CNN and The Washington Post. NBC News was not able to independently confirm Austin's identity. The Detroit Free Press reported that it confirmed that the site has verified the account.

The campaign, which quickly surpassed its initial goal of $10,000, has raised its money from more than 46,000 donations, according to the page. The campaign was combined with another campaign set up by John Martinez, whom CNN identified as Irma Garcia's nephew, which raised more than $550,000 and got a boost from philanthropist Bill Pulte after he encouraged his 3.2 million followers to donate to it.

Irma was a fourth grade teacher who had been teaching at Robb Elementary in Uvalde for 23 years, according to her school biography. She and her co-teacher of five years, Eva Mireles, were killed along with 19 children after the 18-year-old gunman gunned them down last week.

“Irma was a wife, a mother of 4, a cousin, a sister a daughter, an aunt and a wonderful person,” Austin wrote on the fundraiser page. “She would literally do anything for questions asked. She loved her classroom kids and died trying to protect them."

Just two days after the shooting, Irma's husband, Joe, collapsed and died at home after he took flowers to a memorial in Irma's memory. Doctors and family members said it was possible that he died of broken heart syndrome, formally known as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, a rare condition that typically occurs following extreme stressors — although experts cautioned it's impossible to know the cause of death without an autopsy or an X-ray.

The condition releases bursts of stress hormones that prevent the heart from properly contracting.

“I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart and losing the love of his life of more than 25 years was too much to bear,” Austin wrote on the campaign page.

The late couple, who were high school sweethearts, have four children, according to Irma’s school biography. The New York Times reported that the kids are teenagers to their early 20s.

Austin wrote that the money that is raised will go toward the family.

"Please donate anything you can to help her family. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Garcia family for various expenses."

Donors expressed their condolences for the Garcia family and for the late couple's children, especially.

"You can see the love Irma and Joe had for one another in their photos and we pray their children will always remember the love their parents had for them," one posted.

"Comfort and peace will come in time as memories of your wonderful parents replace the grief and pain," another wrote.

Other GoFundMe campaigns have been started to raise money in honor of victims, including Mireles, Irma Garcia's co-teacher, and others who survived — including Miah Cerrillo, 11, who told CNN she smeared blood on herself and played dead to survive and has wounds from being hit with fragments in a shoulder and the head, and Kendall Olivarez, 9, who was shot in the shoulder and sustained fragment wounds in a leg and her tailbone, according to her fundraising page.