Despite donations, Hyatt Skywalk Memorial Foundation still $195,000 short on $335,000 memorial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Wednesday marks the 32nd anniversary of the deadliest day in Kansas City history.

On July 17, 1981, 114 people were killed and 216 others injured when two skywalks collapsed inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Kansas City.

Since then, the Skywalk Memorial Foundation -- which was founded by victim's family members, the first responder on scene of the collapse and a local architect -- has worked tirelessly to build a memorial at Hospital Hill Park near 22nd and Gillham.

On Tuesday, the law firm Shamberg, Johnson and Bergman made a $20,000 donation to the group's effort. The firm also helped many of the victims and their families during the litigation process following the collapse.

"This is very important because we sometimes tend to forget, and those who were injured or lost loved ones should never be forgotten," attorney Lynn Johnson explained.

Despite many donations, the foundation is still $195,000 short on the $335,000 project.

Once complete, the memorial would feature a stainless steel sculpture by local artist Rita Blitt on top of a pedestal inscribed with the names of the 114 who died. The sculpture will be the centerpiece in a circular plaza at Hospital Hill Park, which is just across the street from what used to be Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Brent Wright lost his mother and step-father in the collapse. Karen and Gene Jeter died in the just 16 days after their wedding.

Wright was 17 years old then, and says while time has healed most of his wounds, the event scarred many lives in our city.

"You'd be surprised the number of people who will say they know someone, or a friend who lost someone or their related to first responders, and you realize the affect of this is larger than you'd think," Wright said.

The Hyatt Skywalk collapse remains the third deadliest building collapse in United States history. September 11 and the Oklahoma City bombings claimed more lives, but those were acts of terrorism.

In the skywalk collapse, investigators later found the skywalks were not built properly.

Wright hopes a memorial at Hospital Hill Park will give the victim's families a place to mourn together.

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