After launching its capital campaign nearly six months ago, the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center announced Friday the organization has surpassed its first fundraising benchmark, per its Letter of Intent with the River City Company. Driven by the financial support from area veterans and a local businessman, the Heritage Center has raised $1.25 million of the $6 million campaign goal to build a new Heritage Center at the former Visitors Center building in the Aquarium Plaza.
This early fundraising success was made possible by more than $600,000 contributed by area veterans and their families, making those who have served the first collective lead donor for the campaign. In addition, local businessman Greg Vital issued a challenge proposition in the fall that he would match a second donor’s contribution to the campaign. The MOHHC on Friday announced the challenge has been meet and recognize Mr. Vital’s generous contribution of $250,000 as the first part of this dual contribution.
“Last August, we launched our capital campaign with an immediate focus on raising $500,000 from the veteran community to demonstrate their strong support for this important endeavor,” said Major General Bill Raines, U.S. Army (Retired) and chairman of the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center. “I am proud to say our veterans and their families never hesitated to ‘answer the call’ of this challenge. In fact, the veteran community has contributed more than $600,000 so far with hopes of surpassing the $1 million threshold by the end of 2018.
“Chattanooga is widely known for its philanthropy, and Greg Vital’s generous donation of $250,000 is the first individual lead gift, with more expected to come. Most important, Greg’s leadership and unyielding support has enabled us to create momentum as we launch the next phase of our capital campaign with a goal of raising an additional $2 million in 2018.”
In all, the Heritage Center plans to raise more than $6 million – which includes a $1 million endowment – to design and build a dynamic, state-of-the-art Heritage Center that will immerse visitors into the stories of Medal of Honor recipients, such as Desmond Doss, Charles Coolidge, Alvin York, Ray Duke, Paul Huff and Dr. Mary Walker – the only female to receive the Medal of Honor. Upon completing the next phase of fundraising efforts that will secure an additional $2 million (cumulative $3 million), the Heritage Center plans to start construction of the 19,000 square-foot facility in early 2019 with the official opening scheduled for early 2020.
“Chattanooga is rich in history, especially when it comes to our military," said Greg Vital, founder and CEO of ?Morning Pointe Senior Living and Independent Healthcare Properties. "Whether it’s the first Medals of Honor awarded to members of Andrews Raiders, our historic Chattanooga National Cemetery or the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, it’s critical that we preserve our military history and honor those who have served our country and defended our freedoms.
"As the birthplace and home of the Medal of Honor, I believe the Heritage Center will play a pivotal role in preserving an important part of our city’s military history and protecting the heritage of the Medal of Honor. I am truly honored to be a part of this effort, and I look forward to seeing thousands visit the Heritage Center and walking through these unique exhibits that will tell the unreal stories about these real American heroes.”
Scheduled to open in early 2020, the Heritage Center will serve as the home and lasting tribute to the 32 Medal of Honor recipients attributed to the Volunteer State – all of whom represent the best and bravest values of all who have served and sacrificed in defense of our nation. The Heritage Center will feature innovative and life-size exhibits that incorporate new technologies to express the sights and sounds of the Medal of Honor narratives with a vibrancy and immediacy of what happened that day. Each of the immersive exhibits will help create an emotional engagement and, as a result, a more profound and memorable experience for visitors, said officials.
In addition, the Heritage Center will infuse its innovative Character Development Program throughout every exhibit. This curriculum-approved, educational program uses the stories of Medal of Honor recipients to help children explore the six character traits commonly shared by all recipients – courage, commitment, citizenship, sacrifice, integrity and patriotism – and inspire them to exemplify these values in their everyday life and actions, said officials.
To learn more about the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center or get more information about supporting its capital campaign, please visit www.mohm.org or call 405-3677.