BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo and Erie County Military & Naval Park has exceeded its goal to raise $100,000 for emergency hull repairs for USS The Sullivans, but there is more work to be done. Park officials are now focused on raising $1,000,000 needed for permanent repairs to the historic USS The Sullivans.
“We knew Buffalo being the City of Good Neighbors would come through and raise the money needed to keep The Sullivans from sinking, we didn’t know we would exceed our initial goal by such a significant amount,” commented Paul Marzello, president and CEO of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. “Donations came in and continue to come in from veterans, family members of veterans, the general public, and the business community. The generosity of the people of Western New York is incredible.” At last count, a total of $230,000 has been raised with more donations coming in.
Lending a major hand in this effort was Scott Bieler, President and CEO of the West Herr Automotive Group. West Herr donated $50,000 to the effort as a community challenge to accelerate the initiative. “Thank you to Scott Bieler and the West Herr Automotive Group for their leadership gift” added Marzello.
“We know how critical the Naval Park and the USS The Sullivans is to Western New York. When we heard of the emergency fundraising need we immediately felt compelled to help. West Herr is honored and humbled to play a part in assisting this collective community effort,” said Bieler.
With the emergency fundraising goal met, the Naval Park is now focused on raising the $1,000,000 needed for long-term repairs for the USS The Sullivans. “In addition to making a major contribution to the All Hands On Deck campaign, Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development stepped in and has agreed to Captain the next phase of our fundraising effort to raise a total of $1,000,000 to save The Sullivans,” added Marzello.
The plan to permanently repair the hull of the USS The Sullivans requires a full underwater team of divers that will apply an epoxy coating to the entire exterior hull of the ship. The process which creates a water-tight barrier that strengthens and protects the thin steel of the hull from further deterioration is expected to take 3-4 months to complete.
“Major gifts from Scott Bieler, Douglas Jemal and others are providing great initial momentum and we hope those efforts will encourage others to support this cause all the way to the $1,000,000 mark,” Marzello said.
The Naval Park is now extending the All Hands On Deck campaign to Save the Sullivans with a goal of raising the $1,000,000 dollars it needs to permanently repair the USS The Sullivans. Contributions can be made securely online at keepingourshipsafloat.org or by sending contributions to The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, ATTN: All HANDS ON DECK, One Naval Cove, Buffalo, NY 14202 or by contacting the Naval Park directly at 716-847-1773.
About the Buffalo and Erie County Military & Naval Park
In 1976, the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency and a group of community supporters gathered together to create a non-profit organization in order to submit a request to the U.S. Navy for a decommissioned naval vessel as part of a waterfront development plan.
The Navy granted their request, and in 1977, donated a destroyer and a guided missile cruiser to the City of Buffalo. After two years of fundraising and restoration, the newly formed organization opened to the public on July 4, 1979. In subsequent years The Park has added substantially to its collection of military artifacts.
The current collection includes a Fletcher-Class Destroyer, USS The Sullivans (DD-537), named after the five Sullivan brothers who died aboard ship while serving on the USS Juneau in 1942; the only Cleveland-Class Light Cruiser left in existence, USS Little Rock (CL-92/CLG-4/CG-4); Gato-Class submarine, USS Croaker (SS/SSK/AGSS/IXSS-246); Vietnam-era PTF-17 boat; UH-1 Huey Helicopter; Nike Hercules Missile and launcher; M-41 Walker Bulldog Tank; F101 Voodoo Jet, and much more.
The Park is the largest inland naval park in the country. Western New York is home to one of the largest concentrations of military veterans in the United States making The Park a popular attraction as well as a center of pride with this stakeholder group.
More information about The Park is available at buffalonavalpark.org.