The Ability Center

Kickstarting a movement

Brand Strategy, PR, Campaign, Creative Production

Against all odds

Damian Buchman was an athletic teenager before he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. The disease left him physically disabled. After miraculously defeating the disease — twice! — he decided to devote his life to helping people with disabilities. He dreamed up The Ability Center: an inclusive recreational center for people of all ability levels. There was just one problem: he wasn’t “established” enough to raise millions of dollars to build it.

Reframing the narrative

Damian’s story was awe-inspiring but wasn’t generating interest. We uncovered the reason: his vision — a world-class accessible fitness facility from an unknown dreamer — seemed like an impossible dream to most donors. We needed to show that creating a more accessible world is far from impossible. In fact, anyone can do it.

Eliminating one step at a time

We created RampUp, a series of crowdfunding events that awakened the Milwaukee community to the reality that our world is not designed for everyone. We chose highly visible locations around Milwaukee — Bradford Beach, Veteran’s Park and The Red Arrow skating rink — and made them more accessible to everyBODY.

One small ramp for Bradford Beach, one giant leap for The Ability Center

The crowdfunding campaigns generated thousands of dollars and social media impressions. We secured placements in all major news outlets, helping to elevate Damian’s profile in the community. With very little investment, we were able to boost awareness of Damian’s mission, while making Milwaukee a more accessible place to live.

The Work

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Our videos told the stories of people impacted by Milwaukee’s lack of resources and infrastructure for people with disabilities.

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We partnered with the Milwaukee County Parks system, which now allows park patrons to rent the beach wheelchairs, hand cycles and ice sleds paid for by our crowdfunding campaigns.

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Today, Damian and his team have raised over $1,000,000 toward his impossible dream.

He was awarded the Marquette Social Innovation Award, Milwaukee Business Journal’s 40 under 40 and Donald Driver’s Driven to Achieve Award. Damian’s cause is now one of the most highly visible in Milwaukee.