Helen Keller Birthplace struggling financially during pandemic; hackers hit bank account

Updated: May. 19, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WAFF) - More than two months ago, the Helen Keller Birthplace in Tuscumbia closed to the public.

Not only is the popular tourist stop losing money from no foot traffic, now they’re dealing with another blow.

The stage is set, ready for the day when crowds can fill these seats to watch the outdoor performance of "The Miracle Worker."

Ivy Green, the home of Helen Keller in Tuscumbia, closed March 18, taking with it all hopes of making money during one of it’s busiest seasons.

“Probably $75,000 in school groups alone. The gift shop that’s a big revenue for us as well. So I’d say at least $150,000 has been lost,” said Sue Pilkilton, executive director of the Helen Keller Birthplace.

Pilkilton says not only is the property sitting empty -losing money everyday - somebody hacked the museum’s bank account.

“This is the third time in less than a month and it’s devastating to us,” said Pilkilton.

To make matters worse - there’s no date set yet for museums and theaters to reopen. They have no choice but to keep their gates locked and wait for the Governor to lift restrictions. Even then, recouping losses won’t be easy.

“I would say 15 months for us all to recover from this.”

Pilkilton says she’s hopeful things will start looking up soon. While she’s concerned about the money lost from the pandemic - she’s taking a page from Helen Keller’s play book - remembering this famous quote - although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

“I keep saying OK, Helen, I don’t know how much more stress I can take. We’ll survive. We’ve always survived. We’re looking for brighter days, know the sun is shining today. I think it will be alright.”

Optimism in the face of adversity.

Pilkilton says she’s been in touch with the bank and hopefully caught the hack in time to prevent losing money.

As for the Helen Keller Festival, Pilkilton says the festival is canceled this year. She says once the property is allowed to reopen the “Miracle Worker” play will go on but the season will be cut in half. She’s hopeful the first play will take place June 26th ending on July 11th.

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