LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More than three years after it closed down, an effort is underway to raise money for the renovation of a museum at Muhammad Ali's childhood home on Grand Avenue in Louisville's Parkland neighborhood.
As part of a $5.8 million fundraising campaign, the nonprofit hopes to raise $1 million in donations by the end of February 2021 so it will be ready for a grand opening in the fall, according to a news release. The funds will go toward the construction of a welcome center for the museum and "improving the grounds, creating community programs as well as an endowment," the news release says.
Ali moved into the home at 3302 Grand Ave. with his family when he was 5 and lived there for 15 years. In 2012, Philadelphia trial lawyer George Bochetto and Las Vegas real estate investor Jared Weiss bought the home and restored it. They also bought the home next door to serve as a gift shop.
The museum opened in May 2016 — a month before Ali's death at age 74 — to a steady stream of guests. After less than two years in business, however, it closed in September 2017 due to financial troubles. The city budgeted $50,000 in 2016 to help the project, but Bochetto told WDRB News that the partners turned down the money because it was not a long-term solution.
"It has always been our hope that once we demonstrate to the city and to the community how important this project is, that they would want to join in the effort. But they can't expect two private individuals to just carry this forever at their own expense," Bochetto told WDRB News in May 2017.
Now, the nonprofit hopes donations from the community can help reopen the home and museum dedicated to the life and legacy of the heavyweight champion and activist. The fundraising campaign offers a variety of donation options, ranging from one-time pledges to reoccurring monthly gifts starting as low as $5 and the $500 "Welterweight donation level" and $2.5 million "G.O.A.T level." Donors can receive rewards such as commemorative plaques, owning a small piece of the home itself, contributing video tributes, funding scholarships or providing naming rights to the welcome center depending on the size of their pledges.
"When we came upon the opportunity to acquire the childhood home of Cassius Clay Jr., George Bochetto and I were ecstatic to begin a non-profit museum for all Ali fans," Weiss said in a news release. "Muhammad Ali 'shook up the world' and we are better because of it. Restoring his home is an honor to him and a reminder to us to fight for the world we want, no matter who we are or where we are fighting from."
For more information about the project and to donate, visit www.alichildhoodmuseum.com.
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