WTHR collects donations for Indianapolis 9/11 Memorial

WTHR Cares is collecting donations at the studios, 10th and Meridian, through 7pm.
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INDIANAPOLIS - Hundreds of Hoosiers came together to donate over $45,000 toward Project 9/11 Friday. The project organizers' goal was $50,000.

As of Monday morning, $45,164.22 had been donated.

"Folks riding up in their cars, riding bicycles," said meteorologist Chris Wright about the viewers that stopped by the WTHR studios to donate.

"I'm giving for two people. She lives in Anderson, does not drive, that's hers and this is all mine," said Rinda Gibson.

Those who donated were given an American flag and a special Project 9/11 t-shirt.

"It's been very moving for me to watch this today on TV. I showed him my shirt and he wanted one too, so we came back," said one supporter.

By Friday evening, $38,346 was donated, including more than $27,000 in person at WTHR studios.

Downtown, caulk helps join concrete and granite at the new memorial along the canal.

"It looks like a cross to me," said one onlooker.

A worn rosary hangs from bent rebar, there since it arrived at Garfield Park. The memorial gives every Hoosier a chance to reach out and touch history.

"This is an awesome cause. I really like having the statue put up here, so we can come and remember 9/11 and all the victims that lost their lives," said one person as they gave a donation.

"I have a 10-year-old daughter and she just asked me last night, she said, 'Mommy, why do they keep saying 9/11? What does that mean?" said Donna Kemp.

She hopes a visit to the memorial will help her understand.

"That day was horrible," said Jolinda Bova, a native New Yorker. "My daughter wants me to move to Iowa. I am staying here. I've become a Hoosier."

"I know someone who was there with the rescue team, Task Force One and she was very emotional about it," said Jenny Green.

Seeing what Hoosiers are doing was Greg Hess, the firefighter who conceived the monument.

"It just reaffirms the decision to do this was the right one. A guy came in a taxi to donate. Everybody wanted to donate, do what they can. Just reaffirmed my idea was sound and the right thing to do," Hess said.

Hess is looking forward to Sunday's 4 p.m. dedication of the memorial. No taxpayer funds were used in the project. It was funded entirely by private donations, with monument work by Crown Hill.

The Indianapolis 9/11 Memorial is composed of two steel beams from Ground Zero, which have been placed near the canal just off Ohio Street. It is not yet complete.  Hoosiers have been generous donating money and labor, but project organizers need more help.  It will obviously cost money not only to finish construction but also maintain the monument for generations to come.   

Firefighter Greg Hess has been the driving force behind construction. He says they need help.

"We've had some gracious donations over the weekend but we're still working," said Hess.  "We're working every day to get money brought in for this and I understand the economy's tight but when you look at $350,000 for this memorial and $21 million for the Shanksville memorial, we're getting off pretty easy for this." 

Hess hopes the memorial will help Hoosiers find a sense of connection and even closure to the events that changed lives that day.

"It was obviously one of the darkest days of our country. [The beams] are an opportunity for people to go down and touch a piece of history," said he explained. "For a lot of people hopefully it will bring them some closure. Many people react by crying or praying. There's a whole myriad of emotions when you're around them."

You can also donate at any area Forum Credit Union or online.

Text to donate information

You can text "911" to 27722 to make a $10 donation for Project 9/11 Indianapolis.

Donors can text "911" to 27722 up to three times for a total of $30 donations.

Donors will need to reply "yes" when prompted after the donation is made.

Donations will show up on the donor's next bill.

Learn more about donating.