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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Roosevelt Island FDR Hope Memorial Depicting President Franklin Roosevelt In A Wheelchair Receives Anonymous $150 Thousand Donation Yesterday Presented By NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright - FDR Hope Memorial Expects Fall 2016 Opening

Roosevelt Island's NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright presented Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA) President Jim Bates with a check for $150 Thousand to complete funding for the FDR Hope Memorial yesterday afternoon at Southpoint Park.

According to the FDR Hope Memorial web site:
A sculpture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in a wheelchair, interacting with a disabled child, is planned for Roosevelt Island in New York City. The FDR Hope Memorial will be located at Southpoint Park, just south of the hospital where survivors of polio, the disease that disabled Roosevelt, benefited from the pioneering use of ventilators that freed them from the constraints of “iron lungs.”

The goal of the FDR Hope Memorial Committee (FDRHM), a sub-committee of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, is to celebrate President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the inspiration for all who strive to overcome challenges. According to the memorial’s mission statement, “Roosevelt Island was so named to reflect a commitment to an integrated community where the disabled move freely, live independently and develop to their fullest potential. The FDR Hope Memorial will educate future generations about FDR and about Roosevelt Island, a vital community of ‘enabled’ residents.”

Jim Bates, President of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, said the memorial will be “a place of comfort, hope, understanding and inspiration.”...

Assembly Member Seawright's office issued this press release:
On a beautiful August summer day on Roosevelt Island, Assembly Member Seawright presented Jim Bates of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association with a $150,000 check from a charitable individual who wishes to remain anonymous. The donated funds will allow RIDA to move forward with the FDR Hope Memorial project, which has been in the works since 2009.

The memorial will be located in Roosevelt Island’s Southpoint Park. Sculptor, Meredith Bergmann, has been commissioned to create the statue of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt seated in a wheelchair reaching out to a young girl with a crutch. The memorial signifies the strength of those with disabilities in overcoming adversity.

“I am thrilled that we were able to work with a remarkably generous constituent to finish this extraordinary memorial,” Seawright said. “This is just another shining example of the incredible unity that exists in our district and I could not be prouder.”

Standing before the site upon which the monument will be located, the Assembly Member said “I am honored to be here to assist with the completion of the FDR Hope Memorial. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s legacy has developed into something beyond what people alive at that time generally knew – that he was not just a remarkable President, but also an individual who prevailed despite his disability.”

The sculptor and the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association expect that the FDR Hope Memorial will be complete by Fall 2016.
Here's Ms. Seawright presenting the $150 Thousand check to Mr. Bates.

The FDR Hope Memorial will open in the fall of 2016.

The FDR Hope Memorial sculptor Meredith Bergmann described the inspiration for the memorial and RIDA President Jim Bates said:
... we can present this not only to New York City, but to the world. This will inspire people around the world in the challenged and disabled community that they are an enabled community and they can be whatever they choose to be.

Prior the the check donation ceremony, former RIDA President Virginia Granato spoke about her feelings at seeing fundraising for the FDR Hope Memorial completed.

In addition to the anonymous $150 thousand donation, the FDR Hope Memorial received $150 Thousand from NYC Parks Department and $100 Thousand through the efforts of the FDR Four Freedoms Park as well as some smaller individual contributions.

Here's more on the FDR Hope Memorial

and my 2012 interview with Ms. Bergmann and Mr. Bates showing a mock up of the FDR Hope Memorial.

The efforts to build a memorial on Roosevelt Island depicting President Roosevelt in a wheelchair began in 2009 when RIDA opposed and protested the Louis Kahn FDR Four Freedom Park design proposal for not portraying in any manner President Roosevelt as a disabled person.

RIDA and the FDR Four Freedoms Park organizers subsequently reconciled and have been working together to bring the FDR Hope Memorial to fruition. (For disclosure purposes, I have been part of the efforts assisting FDR Hope Memorial from the beginning.)

Congrats to all involved in the project.