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McChord airman using GoFundMe to reunite his family

Website helps father fight for his children's well-being

Staff Sgt. Sam Natividad gets silly with his kids, but his intentions are no laughing matter. Courtesy photo/GoFundMe.com

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GoFundMe is a crowdsourcing website that has revolutionized the way people raise money. It has been used to fund everything from small business startups and product launches to medical treatments and charitable campaigns.

Now, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord airman is using it to try to reunite his family.

When Staff Sgt. Sam Natividad separated from the mother of his children several years ago, he was facing deployment to Iraq and was, therefore, unable to get custody of the couple's three children. Now that he is stationed at JBLM, Natividad is fighting to get his children back.  

His campaign is not just fueled by his desire to be with his children, but also by a wish to see them in a more comfortable and stable environment. Currently, Mackenzie, 10, Hailey, 8, and Theodore, 7, live with their mother in Astoria, Oregon. The children share a single bedroom with five other children, and Natividad and his current wife, Karina Kemmerer, are concerned for the children's safety and welfare. They would love to be able to provide a better environment for them.

Natividad has no desire to separate his children from their mother permanently, and he is willing to share custody. He just wants to give his kids the stability he feels they deserve.  

"I would like it to be known that their mother is not a bad mother, and I am not trying to portray her as such," Natividad said. "She made a couple of bad decisions; we are all allowed to make mistakes. I just want to give my children the space and opportunity to grow as their own person."

But getting custody is proving to be a very costly endeavor. The children's mother is fighting to retain custody, so court costs are significant and increasing. Beyond that, he must travel 160 miles each way to see his children in Astoria, attend court hearings and file paperwork. He and his wife are hoping that donations to their GoFundMe account will help offset some of these expenses.

"I had seen GoFundMe used by a friend to help her with some legal matters, and that's what gave me the idea," Natividad said when asked what made him decide to use the site to attempt to raise money to help with his custody battle. "Legal proceedings can be expensive, so I figured the worst that could happen is no one would donate, and I'd be where I started."  

So far, he has raised $60 toward his goal of $1,600.

At present, he is only able to see his children once or twice a month, due to the expense of traveling such a long distance.  He's hoping that, with the help of GoFundMe, soon his three older children will be able to permanently join him and his wife and their 5-year-old daughter, Serenity.

To make donations to Sam's GoFundMe account, www.gofundme.com/pp287mug/.

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