Memorial groundbreaking highlights effort to honor disabled US veterans

For 12 years, the Lois Pope Life Foundation has raised funds to build the $85 million American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the first national memorial to honor disabled veterans.

Client The Lois Pope Life Foundation and the Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation (Delray Beach, FL)

PR agency DKC (New York)

Campaign American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

Duration August-November 2010

Budget $18,000

For 12 years, the Lois Pope Life Foundation has raised funds to build the $85 million American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the first national memorial to honor disabled veterans. For the November 10 groundbreaking, it sought to promote the memorial, fundraising efforts, and the US' 3 million disabled veterans.

"This was our last significant event before construction," says the foundation's executive director Rick Fenstermacher. "It had to be very precisely choreographed and executed in order to attract the speakers we wanted and earn media attention."

Strategy

The goal, says Bruce Bobbins, EVP at DKC, was to make the groundbreaking "the Veteran's Day event" in Washington. "We needed to overcome memorial fatigue because people had been hearing about this project for 12 years," adds Fenstermacher.

DKC, which has worked with the foundation for 12 years, developed local angles for regional media, while also ensuring mainstream news coverage reached an audience of corporations, large foundations, and other potential funders.

Tactics

Actor Gary Sinise, the memorial's spokesperson, published an op-ed on The Huffington Post on November 10. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and philanthropist Lois Pope attended the groundbreaking. DKC also generated buzz by promoting a silver dollar (pictured), with proceeds going to the memorial.

Results

The groundbreaking netted stories in The Wall Street Journal, AP, and Fox News, while the silver dollar was featured on Today and The O'Reilly Factor.

Bobbins says less than $2 million of funding is needed, following Pope's $500,000 matching gift at the ceremony.

Future

The foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts and will begin planning for the dedication campaign in 2012, says Fenstermacher.

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