"The Kennedys would do whatever they could to help anyone or any animal in need, and now it is our turn to help them."

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Joey and Veronica Kennedy have dedicated their lives to helping others. Married for more than 40 years, both were English professors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). As their honorary daughter Sara Denton puts it, "their impact on young minds over many years has been remarkable."

While Veronica is retired, Joey remains one of the most popular professors at UAB. A talented writer, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for a series of editorials analyzing Alabama's tax system for The Birmingham News. He continues to write a weekly column for the Alabama Political Reporter.

Joey and Veronica Kennedy
Credit: Courtesy of Sara Denton

Tragedy struck the couple on the evening of March 16, 2021, when their Birmingham home caught fire, rendering it uninhabitable and destroying all their belongings. Though the Kennedys were able to save their five rescue dogs, their cat Smudge died in the blaze.

One of their dogs, a 100-pound lab mix named Franklin, is on oxygen due to damage to his throat and lungs.

"He's not out of the woods yet but we are all hoping for a miracle," Denton told Southern Living.

Shortly after hearing the tragic news, Denton and her wife Nicole (a former student of Veronica's) started a GoFundMe to help the beloved educators.

"The Kennedys would do whatever they could to help anyone or any animal in need, and now it is our turn to help them," they wrote on the GoFundMe.

In less than 18 hours, more than 140 people donated to the couple raising more than $12,000. In just six days, the effort has raised nearly $21,000.

"They are going to need food, clothes, shelter, and assistance with their animals as they rebuild all that was lost," Denton wrote.

Donate here to help the Kennedys recover from this heartbreaking tragedy.