LAKE GEORGE | As the season of giving begins, Warren County Sheriff Bud York is challenging politicians across the U.S. to donate what is left in their war chests after the November election.
On Wednesday he put his campaign money where his mouth is as he donated all of his unspent contributions — totaling $4,448.31 — to support ongoing physical therapy and nursing care for former Marine Sgt. Eddie Ryan, a sniper who was shot in the head twice by friendly fire 10 years ago while serving in Iraq.
“They all have somebody like Eddie they could donate to,” York said. “They need to take that money and give it to people. Hopefully we can get something started right here.”
Unused campaign contributions cannot be spent on personal uses unrelated to campaigns. They can be donated to charity as long as there is no personal conflict. Often they roll over to the next election.
York said he is not planning to run again, but even if he were he wanted to give the money to “a worthy cause.”
“I feel blessed and honored,” Ryan said
Ryan, 31, wasn’t paralyzed from his injuries, but because of the traumatic brain injury, he had to relearn his speech and motor skills. He can almost raise his right arm all the way to salute and has regained use of his left arm. Constant physical therapy is essential to one day being able to stand up from his wheelchair and run, which is his ultimate goal.
York surprised the family with the donation at their home in Lake George, where they moved from Ellenville, Ulster County, in 2011.
They thought York was just paying them a visit Wednesday and were shocked by the check.
“God bless you. Thank you so much. Oh my gosh,” Ryan’s mother, Angela Ryan, said as York gave them an oversized check to keep as a memento.
“It’s a blessing because the support is ongoing and that sustains us,” Angela said. “Just when we think things are getting tight, a blessing like this will happen.”
Ryan’s father, Chris Ryan, said the main use of the funds will go toward the nursing care and physical therapy to fill in the gaps of what Veterans Affairs doesn’t provide.
York doesn’t plan to run again and said he is closing out the Friends of York account after this.
“A lot of good people you know donated tremendously to my fund to get me elected. I had a bunch of money left over, and I asked my treasurer legally can we give this to Sgt. Eddie Ryan’s fund, and he said we could legally,” York said told the family.
He said this year he used about $7,000 to $8,000 in his campaign.
“The government is not taking care of these people, and the politicians who get elected to take care of them need to take it out of their war chests and give it to somebody like this,” York said.
The Ryans gave York a shirt that read “tougher than a tank,” which is what Eddie Ryan quipped he was after surviving the gunshots, which came from a tank.