Residents at Tivoli Apartments had to put their lives on pause Sunday afternoon when their homes went up in flames.

Bryan Schmidt, a freshman legal studies major, lived on the third floor of apartment 1456, one of the buildings damaged from the fire.

"I wish I could have gotten some personal things: pictures, my rugby jersey, a watch my father gave me when I graduated middle school. Those things can't be replaced," he said.

Thinking about the money's worth of items that were lost, he estimated approximately $3,000 worth of belongings.

Schmidt is currently sleeping on an air mattress at his friend's place in Neptune, an on-campus student apartment.

Although he has found somewhere to stay, he said he can't help but think of everything that has been taken away from his life.

"Everything I'm in is what I have. It's very disheartening. You feel that you lost your identity," he said.

Cristian Soto, another resident in Tivoli, also lived on the third floor of 1456, but he was out of town when the incident happened.

"My first thought was, 'If it's going to happen, happen now," said Soto, a senior philosophy major. "I'm going to start over. I'm going to work hard to set myself up even better than before."

Soto and Schmidt were two of the 75 residents in Tivoli who were affected by the fire, and Schmidt decided to take a stand immediately and ask for help. He decided to create a GoFundMe page to raise money to help replace his belongings.

Within the first 22 hours of creating the page, he received more than $1,700 in donations. So far, he has raised $2,360 out of his $3,000 goal, and his page has been shared a total of 571 times on social media.

"I was on my way home from lunch and I was contacted by a friend who told me my apartment complex was ablaze. I got a ride to the apartment complex and witnessed all of my possessions burn down in my apartment," Schmidt wrote on his page. "I was distraught and waited about six hours for the Red Cross to come and help those of us who were displaced."

Schmidt said he will figure out how much money he needs and then donate the rest back to other residents.

"It's all belongings. You're still alive, no one died. We're shaken, but fine health wise," he said. "Look toward the future and remember everything was only material."

To help Schmidt meet his goal, visit his GoFundMe page.


Johnathan Kuntz is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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