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Salvation Army captain rides Icon Park wheel for 9 hours in urgent plea for donations

by Susan and Simon Veness

Challenging times call for creative measures, and on Dec. 4, Captain Chapman rode the giant wheel at Icon Park for a full nine hours to help fill the Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles.

icon park

The Salvation Army’s 3rd Annual Donation Rotation event began a week early to offset an 83% deficit on previous years’ donations, with the kick-off of their Red Kettle event at Icon Park on International Drive in Orlando, Fla.

Captain Chapman, area commander of The Salvation Army in Orange and Osceola counties, stepped up to aid in the program’s recovery by riding Icon Park’s 400-foot observation wheel for nine straight hours, from 1-10 p.m., in an effort to spur donations to help recoup the $13,000 the Red Kettle campaign is down by this year, with the ultimate goal of raising $500,000.

Part of The Salvation Army’s mission is to support struggling families, veterans, homeless children, and vulnerable seniors, and for the first time the Red Kettle campaign has gone online as the nationwide Virtual Kettle Campaign.

“We started the season early with our rescue Christmas message because so many people needed food, financial assistance, housing, and clothing,” said Captain Chapman. “So far, $14,986 was donated online and at our kettles, leaving over $450,00 to be collected by Christmas eve. We are calling on those who were blessed in 2020 to give and help their struggling neighbors.”

Icon Park, the organization’s partner, sponsor, and supporter of the event, waived the ticket cost for anyone who volunteered to take the 23-minute giant wheel ride with Captain Chapman, and also donated $1 for every ticket sold to riders who chose not to ride with the Captain.

Icon Park president and CEO, Chris Jaskiewicz, says, “The Salvation Army team does great work every day for people in need, and we are proud to help them raise money to support their mission, especially now.”

In addition, Ole Red Orlando dining and entertainment venue at Icon Park donated food to volunteers, while visitors to the restaurant, which was inspired by country music superstar and Opry member Blake Shelton, enjoyed Christmas music and created lasting memories by posing for photos with Ole Red mascot SAL and Captain Chapman.

Those who would like to donate to The Salvation Army directly can do so on SalvationArmy.org, or call the organization at (407) 423-8581.  Also watch for the Red Kettle campaign workers, from now through Christmas Eve.

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