West Linn, OR. Willamette Falls Trust supporters gathered on April 10th to celebrate $7 million in new gifts from two philanthropic families to help with plans to provide access to the falls and revitalize the area. Connie Ballmer, wife of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and the co-founder of Ballmer Group, has donated $5 million toward the Riverwalk. The Ann and Bill Swindells Charitable Trust has donated $2 million; the Trust is focused on improving the quality of life for Oregonians, and seeks to sustain the state’s cultural, scientific and historical endeavors.
The Willamette Falls Riverwalk is a public/private partnership, with government and nonprofit organizations working together to bring the project to life. Willamette Falls Trust works alongside the Willamette Falls Legacy Project, a four-government effort comprised of Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon.
“It’s as if someone put a roof on the Grand Canyon and kept it hidden away for all these years,” said Connie Ballmer about the Falls. “It’s time to lift the roof off Willamette Falls so that more Oregonians can experience this beautiful place. These kinds of projects don’t come along very often, so it’s an important moment for the region and state. I am delighted to lend support to Willamette Falls Trust and Oregon City’s beautiful waterfront.”
“These generous gifts buoy our efforts to complete the first phase of a world-class Riverwalk, demonstrating community and regional support of our plans to create a new experience at Willamette Falls that will give everyone new opportunities to explore the rich habitat, culture and history of this significant place,” said Alice Norris, Board Chair of Willamette Falls Trust.
Here’s a video about the donation from Connie Ballmer:
With a fundraising goal of $35 million for Phase One of the Riverwalk, $19.5 already contributed by the Willamette Falls Legacy Project partners, and this additional $7 million donated by individuals, the project has now raised more than 75% of the funds needed to meet the goal. A capital campaign to raise the remaining $8 million is currently underway.
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