UPDATE: 'Save Space Camp' exceeds fundraiser goal helped by group from Cleveland, TN

UPDATE: Last week, Space Camp and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama announced that they would have to close their doors in October if they didn’t raise 1.5 million dollars.

Happily, they reached and are now exceeding their fundraising goal in just 7 days. Over 8,000 people donated with major donations from two corporations.

The Alderman Group, based in Cleveland, played an integral role in running the ‘Save Space Camp’ fundraiser.

Years ago, they assisted space camp with social media and marketing. When they were asked to help this time with an important mission, they were pleased to facilitate the fundraiser and be part of the group that saved Space Camp.

“I’m proud of Space Camp. I’m proud of our team and the role that they’ve played. They’ve worked non-stop, and I’m proud of the American people and people across the globe,” Rob Alderman, Senior Partner at Alderman Group, said of the fundraiser.

He continued “and, it’s really lovely to see people to get on board a mission of hope and exploration.”

He called the campaign reaching its goal inspiring, adding “to be a part of something like that is truly humbling for us, and we’ve loved every minute of it.”

Even though the original goal has been met, Save Space Camp continues to raise funds to ensure it thrives for future generations.

PREVIOUS STORY: Space Camp and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, may have to shutter their doors come October.

A fixture in the Tennessee Valley, they’ve seen a significant loss of revenue due to the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, they launched a new fundraising campaign called “Save Space Camp” in the hopes of staying open.

Many people, myself included, remember a favorite school field trip or family visit to the museum, or maybe you or your child attended space camp. For new memories to be made and the education to continue, they have to raise at least $1.5 million.

The Rocket Center had over 1 million visitors in 2019 as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing was celebrated, and 45,000 people attended Space Camp.

Likewise, 2020 started strong. Then, the pandemic hit. Their doors closed in mid-March, reopening the museum slowly at the end of May, and only hosting a limited number of Space Camps starting at the end of June.

“It’s been devastating. You know we are an agency of the state of Alabama, but we were set-up to be self-supporting. So, without attendance, we have no revenue,” Pat Ammons, Senior Director of Communications at U.S. Space & Rocket Center, explained their situation.

By the end of August, they will have laid off 90% of their employees.

They’ve exhausted all options, not qualifying for federal relief programs

“We’ve tried all the avenues, and we’re not going to stop trying. But, we needed to go ahead and act now because we are at a point where we at the end of October, we will be completely out of money,” Ammons said seriously.

Just to keep the large facility running takes about 1 million dollars a month.

“This minimum of $1.5 million that we’re asking for support for is truly survival,” added Ammons.

And, their survival is important to inspire future scientists, engineers, and educators, like 2017 Baylor School Graduate Niko Blanks, who attended space camp 4 times with countless other Rocket Center visits.

“My ultimate goal is to become an astronaut. The path there is going to be long and challenging, but Space Camp definitely prepared me for that,” Niko Blanks, a Signal Mountain Space Camp Alumnus, told Channel 3.

He is now majoring in space flight operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University after having gained knowledge and lasting friendships at space camp.

“I want Space Camp to be around for a long time, so kids in the future that are these bright minds and future explorers that are going to be changing the world can have the same experiences, the same amazing experiences that I did,” Blanks said inspiringly.

The $1.5 million will keep the doors open at the Space & Rocket Center in a limited capacity into next spring.

Space Camp is already planned to close in September with the goal to start up again in April 2021.

“If you’ve ever been to the Space and Rocket Center you know what an awe-inspiring place it is,” reminded Ammons.

The Save Space Camp GoFundMe has raised over $400,000 in 1 day, and you can follow the trend on social media with #SaveSpaceCamp.

The marketing Alderman Group in Cleveland, TN volunteered their time and resources to help quickly and successfully launch this fundraiser.

Both Ammons and Blanks said that every little bit will help if you can donate, and if you can’t donate now, to please help them spread the word.

Plus, you can also still visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center with a timed-ticket entry and your mask, and a limited number of spots are available for the remaining Space Camps this summer.