(NEW YORK) — Taco Bell’s $1,000 donation to the late visionary behind the popular Doritos Locos Tacos is being criticized as miserly in an online petition asking the company to donate a larger portion of the millions of dollars the company earned from his idea.
Todd Mills, an Air Force veteran and long-time Taco Bell customer, underwent surgery for brain cancer in August and died on Nov. 28 at age 41.
Last week, Taco Bell made a statement about the famous Taco Bell customer, saying that the company donated $1,000 toward his medical expenses.
“We know this is a tragic time for Todd’s family,” Taco Bell said in a statement on Wednesday. “He was a huge Taco Bell fan. He was passionate about the Doritos Locos Taco, and although he did not invent it, he founded a Facebook page to drum up support. In light of his passion, we invited him to be one of the first to try it. He became a true friend of the brand, so when we learned of his ill health, we made a $1,000 donation towards his medical expenses. We will miss Todd very much and our hearts are with his family and friends in this difficult time.”
Mill’s Facebook page launched in Aug. 2009, the site says, with a mission to “convince FritoLay snack company to develop a taco shell made from Doritos.”
The donation amount riled Ashley Tyrner, from New York City, who started a Change.org petition on Wednesday asking Taco Bell to start college funds for Mills’ two daughters and his widow, who lost Mills on Thanksgiving Day.
A 30-year-old mother, who started an organic produce delivery business, said she started the petition to “try and just help.”
“I figured I had to do something when I read how awful Taco Bell dropped the ball on this,” she said. “Everyone who knows Todd seems to truly believe he is what helped Taco Bell get this idea out there for the rest of the world to enjoy.”
Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, launched Doritos Locos Tacos in 2012, and a Cool Ranch version earlier this year. The company said it sold about one million Doritos Locos Tacos a day at the menu item’s height.
A Taco Bell spokesman referred ABC News this week to the company statement it made last week and declined to comment further.
Tyrner said she has communicated with the Mills family and his sister.
“They seem to be very nice people with a very large support system,” she said.
The Mills family could not be reached for comment. The amount of Mills’ medical bills is not known.
Earlier this year, friends of the family launched an online fundraising campaign that closes in 23 days to raise money for his medical bills. The campaign website indicates it has raised $15,586 thus far.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN