A local group hopes to restore the Iwo Jima Statue replica at Eco Park in honor of a Marine veteran who died in Afghanistan last April.
Craig T. Fuller, 33, was ambushed April 24 while working as a private contractor delivering supplies, according to Joe Sabella.
Fuller, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, attaining the rank of sergeant, had deployed multiple times.
Sabella, Fuller's family and others have now formed For the Love of Our Soldiers with the goal of putting the historical Cape statue back together.
"If Craig could have married this statue, he would have. That was his heart," Sabella said. "He loved the statue. It represented the pride of the Marines. That park and that statue meant everything to him."
The statue is one of three original Felix de Weldon pieces. One stands in Arlington, Va., and another is located in Parris Island, S.C. The Cape piece and the South Carolina piece are one-third the scale of the one in Virginia.
According to Sabella, the Cape statue looks OK - from a distance.
"The problem is when you get up close to it, it's falling apart," he said. "The fingers have crumbled away from hurricanes. There are over 150 cracks in the statue, and one leg is being held together with a ziptie."
At 11 a.m. Friday, For the Love of Our Soldiers will gather at Eco Park at the foot of the Verteran's Memorial Bridge to mark the anniversary of Fuller's death and educate the community on the damage to the statue. The group will announce some upcoming events aimed at raising funds to help restore the monument, with donations to be made in Fuller's name.
The second-grade class of Oasis Elementary Charter School, the Marine League, Invest in America's Veterans Foundation and others will also be present.
The public is welcome to attend.
According to Sabella, it will cost more than $85,000 to restore the statue.
"That's an estimate from research and preliminary proposals from various companies across the country," he said.
To fund the restoration project, the following events are scheduled:
- May 2: Scavenger hunt at 9 a.m. at Harley-Davidson/Buell of Fort Myers, at 2160 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. Grand prize is $250 gift certificate to store.
n May 15-16: Guitar Hero competition pre-elimination round from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at DT Designs and OutStanding Car Care, at 877 Cape Coral Parkway E. Registration fee is $25. Prizes are $300 gaming gift certificate, $100 gaming gift certificate and $50 gift certificate.
- May 22: For the Love of Our Soldiers from 5-9 p.m. at Jaycee Park at 4125 S.E. 20th Place. Activities include an opening ceremony honoring all military branches, dunk tank, rock wall climb, D-Box simulated car race, corn hole competition, Guitar Hero finalist competition, blow-up slide, caricature artist, face painting, ending ceremony with candlelight vigil and video presentation.
Proceeds from all three events will go toward restoring the statue.
For more information, call Joe Sabella at 470-3661.