The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park has reached a historic milestone. The Park announced the Save the Sullivans Campaign has surpassed the $1,000,000 fundraising goal. This campaign represents the largest fundraising initiative for the Park since its founding more than 40 years ago.
USS The Sullivans is named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers who, serving together on the light cruiser USS Juneau, were all killed in action on its sinking around November 13, 1942. The ship was christened by the fallen brothers’ mother, Alleta Sullivan, and is a National Historic Landmark. It holds a special place in our nation’s military history and a special place on the Buffalo Waterfront.
In February of 2021, damage to the ship’s hull resulted in leaks that put the ship in danger of sinking, The Naval Park launched Save the Sullivans, to raise the $1,000,000 needed to complete the repairs. Douglas Jemal of Douglas Development volunteered to act as Campaign Captain of Save the Sullivans. Kelly Sullivan, the granddaughter of Albert Sullivan, the youngest of the five Sullivan brothers, is Campaign Co-Captain with Jemal.
The Buffalo Naval Park asked our team at Abbey Mecca to design and execute a marketing communications campaign to support the Save The Sullivans campaign. Our team created the general branding, as well as design and development of direct and email campaigns, public relations and social media outreach. “We knew it was important to get the story of the USS Sullivans out to a wide audience, beyond Western New York.” Commented Dan Mecca, president of Abbey Mecca. “Our team, along with the folks at the Naval Park, did an amazing job. The story receive great local, national and even international attention. The Naval Park received donations from generous donors from as far away as Japan.” The 10-month campaign called for three separate press events that were critical in telling the story of the USS Sullivans.
The social media post, logo, and Save The Sullivans stickers are some examples of concepts our team designed, developed, and produced for the campaign. Our art director Paul Maurer also created a website to serve as a landing page for online users to make donations. The Save The Sullivans website can be viewed here : savethesullivans.org
The press events were held in March, August and November. The official launch of the Save The Sullivans campaign was marked by a private fundraiser hosted by Jemal in Marcon St. Patrick’s Day. This invite only event was the first major push towards raising the $1,000,000. Several months later, another press event was held at the Naval Park in late August which marked the first day work had begun on hull repairs to USS The Sullivans. “We are excited and relieved that today we have ‘divers in the water’ and repair work has begun in earnest to save this historic ship.” commented Paul Marzello, president and CEO for the Buffalo Naval Park. Work is being performed by BIDCO Marine Group, a locally owned specialty marine contractor. “We are excited and relieved that today we have ‘divers in the water’ and repair work has begun in earnest to save this historic ship.” commented Paul Marzello, president and CEO for the Buffalo Naval Park. Work is being performed by BIDCO Marine Group, a locally owned specialty marine contractor. At this point of the campaign, significant progress had been made towards raising the $1,000,000 goal. Since March, the Save the Sullivans campaign has raised $535,000 towards the one million dollar goal and has entered the final stage of the effort.
Many people were touched by the story of the Sullivan family and wanted to make efforts to save the ship. Even a four-year-old boy, Arrow Swartwout made donations to Save The Sullivans. Arrow brought coins totaling to less than $3 in a little sandwich bag to the President of the Buffalo Erie County and Military Park, Paul Marzello. Arrow’s generosity impressed the community and more and more people began to step up and make contributions.
As momentum picked up, donations were coming in from local contributors, naval contacts from around the country, and high profile donors. Seeing the community and people around the world come together for this campaign was inspiring and perhaps motivated the Save America’s Treasures Foundation to contribute the remaining $499,000 needed to reach the goal.
Many significant individuals were in attendance for the press release and thanked on behalf of their efforts including Kelly Sullivan and Douglas Jemal, Mayor Byron W. Brown, Brad Hafner of West Herr Auto Group, President of the Naval Park Paul Marzello, board chair Terry McGuire, and Arrow, the young boy who emptied his piggy bank to help save the ship.
“After an extremely difficult year, It’s amazing to see how the community and world come together to raise over a million dollars in ten months. Thanks to everyone who supported this campaign, USS The Sullivans will be able to remain as a National Historic Landmark at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.” commented Paul Marzello, president and CEO for the Buffalo Naval Park.