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Patrons help badly burned boy

Two years ago, the world came crashing down on Marine fighter pilot Peter Harmon.

His wife, Shay, was driving with their 5-month-old son when another driver, allegedly drunk and speeding in Pompano Beach, hit them head on. The car burst into a fireball.

Shay managed to push the child out a window before she died. The infant, George, burned over 33 percent of his body, was given only a 5 percent chance to live. But he pulled through, a scarred survivor.

Peter Harmon, who was on a Marine Reserves training mission at the time of the accident, almost immediately received a $10,000 check from a group he'd never heard of: the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation.

"They are awesome," says Harmon, who believes the money gave his son "a big head start."

The foundation was formed in February 1995 by five former Marines who decided to help pay for the education and special needs of children of Marines and federal law enforcement employees.

So far, the group has given away nearly $1.5-million to more than 150 children.

Harmon, now a Federal Express pilot, lives in New Hampshire and is attending the trial in Florida this month of the man charged with manslaughter in his wife's death.

He said little George has a painful life of operations and skin graftings ahead, but still liberally dispenses hugs and kisses.

"To someone who sees him the first time, he may not look so good on the outside, but he is smiling on the inside," Harmon said. "He's tough, he's a fighter, just like a Marine."

Richard Torykian, a Vietnam veteran and senior vice president at an investment firm in New York, said the foundation depends on private and corporate donations.

It provides at least $10,000 for school costs for children up to 19 years old who have a parent killed in the line of duty. The parent must have worked for the FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; Secret Service; Customs; Marshals Service; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; or Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The group also gives scholarships to Marine Corps children who lose a parent or are in financial need. And it helps cover medical needs.

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