National Infantry Museum Launches New Capital Campaign
President Billy Blanchard tapped to lead new effort
Billy Blanchard, President and CEO of Columbus Bank and Trust Company, has agreed to lead a Phase II capital campaign for the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Columbus.
“I’m honored to have been asked to lead this campaign in support of the Infantry Museum, a local, state, and national treasure. All of us have been impacted by Ft. Benning and the men and women who have sacrificed so much in service to us and our great nation. Giving back to support the museum, which honors those men and women in such an amazing way, is a privilege.” – Billy Blanchard
Advancing the Mission: the Campaign to Honor Heroes seeks to raise $20 million to pay for enhancements to one of the region’s most highly acclaimed attractions. Concurrent with the local campaign is one underway in the Atlanta metro area, chaired by businessman Sam Friedman and Georgia State Senator Hunter Hill. The combined efforts have already raised commitments totaling more than $8 million.
The Foundation intends to use these funds to:
- create a Global War on Terrorism memorial and update the gallery chronicling the conflict
- design and fabricate the last remaining artifact gallery
- build a Veteran’s patio garden for outdoor events
- complete the Vietnam War Memorial
- enhance the functionality of the theater by installing a stage and equipment suitable for meetings and presentations
- create a special effects Infantry Theater experience
Blanchard’s passion for the museum was cemented while serving a three-year term on the National Infantry Foundation’s Board of Directors. As chairman of the campaign, he has organized a team of fellow community leaders to help raise the funds. The campaign should be completed by the end of the year.
National Infantry Museum Foundation Chairman Carmen Cavezza said Blanchard’s widely respected business savvy and personable style makes him the right person for the job. “He listens to people and people listen to him. When he explains to potential donors how important and how worthy these projects are, I have no doubt they’ll be eager to contribute.”
The world-class National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center opened nearly six years ago thanks to commitments of more than $100 million from local, regional, national and international supporters. “We can now demonstrate a strong, five-year track record to potential donors in Columbus and across the state,” Cavezza said. “Georgia’s leading philanthropists are beginning to realize that the National Infantry Museum is much, much more than a local attraction.”
The museum has attracted more than 1.8 million visitors in its first five years. TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, ranks it as the number one attraction in Columbus, with scores that make it one of the top attractions in Georgia.