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Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial Founder and Chairperson Dick Eggerding, left, and William Assenmacher of CAID Industries speak during a 2017 event launching the memorial’s fundraising efforts. Assenmacher, and several other Tucson business owners, recently donated $100,000 each to the memorial.

The only memorial honoring veterans and first responders throughout Southern Arizona is one step closer to reality after a group of influential businessman made significant financial contributions to the cause.

Jim Click Automotive Team Founder Jim Click, HSL Properties Founder Humberto Lopez and  CAID Industries CEO William Assenmacher each contributed $100,000 to the Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial, a privately-funded effort destined for 1.5 acres at the Naranja Park site in Oro Valley.

The memorial will include a “Pathway of Heroes” where visitors will see decorative walls representing all branches of the Department of Defense and first responders. Aside from smaller art installations, monuments and landscaping, the main feature of the memorial will be a 24-foot obelisk representing “the strength and courage of our heroes,” according to memorial founder and executive committee chairperson Dick Eggerding.

The committee formed a nonprofit to manage fundraising, and set a roughly $2 million goal.

“These $100,000 gifts get us to a level that we’ve been striving for,” Eggerding said. “The memorial committee and myself are grateful for their contributions.”

Assenmacher, who’s also managing construction of the memorial in-kind with his firm, said he’s passionate about the cause because of the experience it will offer all who visit.

“Its uniqueness, artful design and picturesque setting will touch our hearts and help us reflect on the past, present and future,” he said.

According to Lopez, the men and women “who protect and keep us safe” deserve the recognition and appreciation the memorial will afford veterans and first responders from throughout Southern Arizona, including Fort Huachuca, Cochise, Santa Cruz, Pinal and Pima Counties, Sierra Vista and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

“I cannot think of a better way to honor them than to build the Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial,” Lopez said. “I am investing in this memorial because it will be a fantastic place that fully honors their service.”

A supporter of the nation’s veterans and first responders, Click said “freedom is the cornerstone of life in our community and in our nation.”

“The Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial will honor the heroes that keep us free and it will be a place that educated visitors and teaches our children about those who sacrifice for their future,” Click said.

Design for the memorial is being handled by artist Matthew Mourtafis, while WLB Design Group is assisting. Both are performing the work in-kind.

The fundraising effort is still underway, and more information about the memorial, including how to schedule an informational meeting with members of the executive committee, can be found online at vfrm.org.

Editor's Note: The print version of this story misidentified WLB Design Group as the memorial designer. The Southern Arizona Veterans and First Responders Living Memorial was designed by local artist Matthew Moutafis.

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