Tri-City companies involved in a recent controversy about a commercial are looking to draw more attention to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Windermere Real Estate Kennewick and PS Media are working with Lampson International and the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition to kick off the I Pledge Challenge Wednesday.
The challenge is modeled off the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has raised more than $100 million nationwide.
Participants will be challenged to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and share it on social media, then challenge three friends to do the same and encourage donations to a veterans group, said a PS Media news release.
They plan to announce their initiative at the 9/11 Memorial at the Southridge sports complex off Highway 395 in Kennewick.
Today's kickoff at 2 p.m. will feature a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner by Janine Stange, known as the "National Anthem Girl."
She has performed the anthem in all 50 states and been featured on national TV shows, major sporting events and concerts.
Windermere drew national attention recently with a PS Media-produced TV commercial featuring a young Tri-City girl reciting the pledge.
CBS Sports Network rejected running the ad on a national broadcast of a rodeo that had been recorded in Kennewick. An email from a contact between CBS and local officials initially said the commercial was turned down because of its "political nature," though a network spokeswoman later said the advertisement was not allowed because it was aimed at a local audience.
People taking part in the pledge challenge are asked to consider donating to a local or national group that helps veterans.
A list of seven suggested organizations on the pledge website, www.ipledgechallenge.org, include the Columbia Basin Veterans Coalition, Camp Patriot, Disabled American Veterans, Operation Gratitude, Soldiers' Angels, the Wounded Warrior Project and the San D. Francisco Awareness Campaign.
Joetta Rupert, the veterans coalition's executive director, said she suggested that Mid-Columbia organizations be among the selected nonprofits.
"All the money stays here locally," she said. "We have a large group of veterans in our area that need a lot of help. Veterans typically don't go out and look for help."
The San D. Francisco campaign was recently started by friends of an Air Force major who was shot down in Vietnam in 1968. Francisco's sister, Terri Francisco-Farrell of Kennewick, has been trying for decades to bring home his remains, which have yet to be recovered.
The group is seeking to raise money to research and investigate opportunities to bring his remains home and provide help to families of other missing military members.
"I hope that everyone that says the Pledge of Allegiance also pledges support to the many veterans organizations around the Tri-Cities," Francisco-Farrell said.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom