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April 11, 2014

OKC Memorial fundraising reaches $15M milestone

OKLA. CITY — Generous citizens have donated more than $15 million to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

Kari Watkins, executive director of the privately funded organization, said $15,283,588 has been donated to the 9:03 Fund, created to provide lasting financial support for future preservation and growth. Watkins said the goal was $10 million for an endowment and $5 million for capital expenses.

Watkins said donations are still being accepted. The memorial and museum receive no state or federal funds. Both the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and the museum are maintained and operated by the privately funded Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and at 9:02 a.m., a massive explosion occurred that sheared the entire north side of the building, killing 168 people.

The 30,000-square-foot interactive learning museum tells the story of April 19, 1995, and how the chaos turned to hope in the days following the terrorist attack.

The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial is a 3.3 acre site featuring 168 glass-based chairs, Gates of Time, a 318-foot reflecting pool, Survivor Chapel, Rescuers’ Orchard, children’s area and the Survivor Tree.

Susan Winchester, chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation board of trustees, said supporters are grateful for the donations, which will help add depth to the story being told.

“The items we are adding were not available to us then, but they are so very, very important to the story that we hear today,” Winchester said. “With time, people have entrusted us with their artifacts and their stories. And we want to share those with the world as we make the story remain relevant 18 years after the fact.”

Winchester praised the work of 9:03 campaign co-chairs John Richels and Mike Turpen.

Richels said the campaign was timely with the approaching 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Richels said the campaign included traveling across the state and encountering generous Oklahomans.

Turpen said “it feels really good” to reach the $15 million goal.

“This memorial, this museum is sacred ground, and I believe we’re a beacon to the whole world of triumph, of the human spirit,” Turpen said. “And that’s why it’s important that message is told till the end of time.”

Memorial and museum expenses include conservation and beautification of the grounds, symbolic structure and the museum, and will enable innovative and interactive program growth, sustained exhibit development and expanded opportunities to teach the importance of understanding and overcoming the impact of violence and terrorism.

Each month, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum draws guests from all 50 U.S. states and 32 foreign countries. Since its opening, more than 1.6 million visitors have toured the museum.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121

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