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Disney Family Gives Funds To Restore Laugh-O-Gram Birthplace

When everyone was making toons in New York, Walt Disney was in Kansas City. Now the KANSAS CITY STAR reports that the Walt Disney heirs have pledged funds to refurbish the original animation studio of Walt Disney. For nearly a decade, the Thank You, Walt Disney organization has been fighting to set up a Disney Museum in Kansas City, the birthplace of Mickey Mouse and other early Disney characters. The US$450,000 pledge by the Walt and Lily Disney Foundation is contingent on whether the Thank You organization can match the amount. Currently, the non-profit Thank You organization only has a few thousand dollars in its bank account, according to their co-chairman Vincent "Butch" Rigby. However, the organization has plans to launch a massive private and corporate fundraiser now that they have been promised the money from the Disney Foundation. With the buildings floors collapsed into the basement and the walls leaning inward, the city was set to knock down the meager beginnings of the Disney legacy in 1996. However, the Thank You organization saved the building with a $12,500 purchase. "My dad would have been delighted with Butchs enthusiasm, and hed have found some way to help out," said Diane Disney Miller, Walts daughter. "The people in Kansas City have demonstrated their sincerity and determination. We thought a matching gift would be an appropriate way to begin." The money will go toward returning the building to its 1920s condition including animation equipment present when Laugh-O-Gram films operated out of the second floor. In addition, the building will also house facilities for young artists from area schools to produce animated films. Plus, the first floor would feature a small theatre that would screen the student films made in the renovated site, documentaries on animation and possibly Disney films. The total cost of the project is estimated at $3 million and no word from the Walt Disney Company has been heard on whether they will support the endeavor. The Thank You, Walt Disney organizations plans to make the building into a large scale Disney museum have been thwarted in the past by the Walt Disney Companys decline to participate in the project. To contact the Thank You, Walt Disney organization call: Tel.: (816) 474-7100.

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