A project to erect a monument saluting African-American veterans in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park has received a cash boost from the owners of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills.
The Pegulas' $50,000 donation was announced Monday afternoon.
"We're very appreciative to them. It just shows another angle, that their commitment to Buffalo and Western New York area is not just owning sports teams," said Warren Galloway, an Air Force veteran and chair of the African American Veterans Monument Committee.
Galloway noted the Pegulas own property adjacent to KeyBank Center, where their Sabres host their home games, in the Canalside and Cobblestone neighborhoods near Buffalo's waterfront. He also acknowledged they are just two of the several large-money sources which have donated to the project.
Funds are also being raised by the sale of memorial bricks. The overall fundraising goal is $1.6 million. Galloway says the campaign has reached about 90 percent of that goal. The hope is to complete fundraising over the winter in order to begin work on the monument by March and hold a dedication by July.
The monument will feature 12 black columns, each representing an armed conflict in which African-Americans served. The hope is to help elevate the the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park as a national tourist attraction.
Galloway says it is also hoped the monument will become just the latest piece among the assets which transform the Buffalo-Niagara region into a destination for tourists looking to learn more about African-American history and heritage.
"The monument committee is working with all the major attractions dealing with the African-American community," said Galloway, identifying the Underground Railroad Museum in Niagara Falls, the Colored Musicians Club and Buffalo's Michigan Avenue Corridor. "We're all working together and somehow once the monument is finished, it could be part of an African-American history tour for all of Western New York."