Yael T. Abouhalkah

The embarrassing saga of the Hyatt skywalks memorial

Updated: 2013-07-17T22:38:27Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

Kansas Citians don’t really appear interested in building a memorial to honor the 114 people killed in the Hyatt Regency skywalks collapse 32 years ago today.

And they don’t appear to care about honoring the more than 200 victims of that disaster, or the many relatives who remain alive today, still affected by what happened at the tea dance that turned from a happy event to tragedy.

That’s the blunt conclusion you can reach after looking at the most recent fundraising news from supporters of the memorial.

The leader of the Skywalk Memorial Foundation says it still needs about $195,000 to reach its goal of building a memorial in Hospital Hill Park at 22nd Street and Gillham Road, near the site of the former Hyatt Regency.

But the entire project’s budget is just $335,000 — which means the foundation isn’t even half way to its goal after an effort that began seven years ago.

And that budget and project are scaled down from what organizers a few years ago had dreamed about building.

The fundraising has been plagued by several problems, including the long span of time it took to get even this basic idea for a memorial under way, many years after the July 17, 1981, disaster.

Along with many Star colleagues, I helped write about the aftermath of that event. And like many Kansas Citians, I will forever remember the death and destruction it caused.

But the real victims aren’t being remembered through a memorial.

In some ways, that continues the tragic aftermath of the skywalks collapse to this day.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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