Community donations pour into Riverquarium - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Community donations pour into Riverquarium

August 1, 2007

Albany--The Riverquarium's future in downtown Albany is looking brighter every day.

Last week county and city leaders pledged a combined $550,000 dollars to keep the facility afloat. But the funding hasn't stopped there. Others have since stepped forward making large cash donations to make sure the doors of the Riverquarium stay open for good.

The Riverquarium's director, Scott Loehr, has described the recent donations from the community simply as 'heart warming.'

And in just a matter of days even more donations will pour in as a massive fundraiser prepares to kick off Friday by one of WALB's media partners.

City and county leaders aren't the only ones fighting to save the Riverquarium from a financial bind.

"We can certainly demonstrate here at the Riverquarium that this community supports this community resource," says Scott Loehr.

According to the Riverquarium's director, Scott Loehr, the downtown attraction has received over $30,000 in cash contributions alone in the last five weeks.

"Many people have come forward, some quietly making gifts of money others in kind donations and it's just been heart-warming," says Loehr.

And now even more money is about to pour in.

"Cumulus broadcasting stepped forward weeks ago when the funding crisis became public," says Loehr.

"We feel it's our civic responsibility to help downtown and downtown businesses. We feel that the cornerstone of Downtown is the Riverquarium," says Cumulus general manager, Jay Wachs.

Wachs will kick off a twelve hour radio-thon this Friday to help raise money for the Riverquarium. For a $25 donation, listeners can request their favorite song to be played over the airwaves.

"There's a shortfall of somewhere between 50 and 100,00 dollars from what the city and the county was able to do for the Riverquarium, and from what the Riverquarium actually needs. We're trying to take up as much as that slack we possibly can," says Wachs.

And the money will certainly be put to good use.

"All the funding goes toward meeting the mission of the Riverquarium, programs and services to our constituents, maintaining the various aquariums," says Loehr.

Wachs says downtown Albany can't afford to lose this tourist attraction.

"I think it would send the wrong message to the civic community. It would suggest that no matter what we put in downtown Albany it will fail, and not only don't I think that's true, I don't think that's the message we want to send to the general public," says Wachs.

For now, Loehr remains overwhelmed by the continued financial support from the community.

"It was a very, very pleasant surprise," says Loehr.

And while 2007 has been a tough year for the Riverquarium, Loehr remains optimistic about its future in downtown Albany.

"Perhaps the challenges of 2007 are the springboard to a much better '08,'09, and well into the future," says Loehr.

Along with the radio-thon Friday---that night the J-Blues Band will hit the stage at the State Theater at 8 PM. Tickets are only $10.  All the money raised from the concert will go toward the Riverquarium.

Also, to request a song during the radio-thon Friday--all you have to do is call 639-2650. The Riverquarium will have telephone operators and on-site volunteers standing by to take your donations. That $25 donation you make will also gain you free admission to the Riverquarium.

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