The Challenge Coin Program
Overlooking the canopy of trees in Neillsville's quiet wilderness, The Highground veterans park feels like a small sanctuary elevated above the woods. The park is not a war memorial. It’s a veterans memorial with the intention of educating visitors about the human cost of things. There are 17 tributes spread across the park, each one honoring veterans and their families and the human courage and sacrifice of our nation’s soldiers.
The park’s mission is to pay tribute to the dead and honor the survivors. To continue their mission and maintain the park, The Highground relies heavily on donations. Ike Rebout, the Media and Information Technology Coordinator at the park, started looking for a way to show appreciation to the organization's supporters and donors who have helped The Highground grow so much over the years. He contacted Signature Coins with the idea of starting a challenge coin program that would spread their message and show gratitude to the incredible people making the park’s mission possible.
At first, he and the rest of the organization were skeptical as to what we could provide, and worried about the final quality of our products. Since the challenge coins were intended to display the mission and character of the organization, they wanted to make sure the quality was flawless. We assured Mr. Rebout that all of our products are backed by a 100% guarantee of quality and set to work on creating artwork for the project. Once he saw the first design, Rebout was blown away. “I took one look at it, was completely inspired, and forwarded the email to our Executive Director Jon to take a look, he was speechless. We knew at that moment that Signature Coins really got what our goals were to accomplish,” Rebout said when asked about the moment he received his first free proof.
Creating the Coins
Rebout was inspired to start a challenge coin program by the veterans and active duty soldiers he has encountered over the years. He noticed that “the most prized possessions of a lot of the military members were the challenge coins that they had earned while in service. Each one having a unique story.” Just like all of those coins were a part of a story, Rebout wanted to make sure that the coins we made for The Highground captured the park’s story.
Our art team was excited to get started on this project and understood the importance of getting the design just right. Rebout wanted the coins to feature the Highground logo front and center and asked that we incorporate gold and blue colors to really make the artwork stand out. We prepared several different proofs and worked together with Rebout to refine the details and get everything perfect. By the time we finished our sixth proof, the design was finally ready.
While Rebout and his team were apprehensive before starting the project, seeing our free digital proofs and images of previously made coins helped them feel confident in our ability to deliver the best quality coins on the market. The fact that Signature Coins offers free artwork and free revisions without any obligation eliminates a great deal of stress for many of our clients, especially non-profits like The Highground who work on a tight budget.
The first series of 500 coins were minted, numbered and released on September 22, 2018. Rebout and his team were so pleased with the design that they immediately asked us to get started on a second coin. The first coin in the program is intended to be a gift of welcome and appreciation for the people who have donated to their non-profit. They plan for the subsequent coins to highlight different tributes throughout the park and historic pieces in the Highground’s Learning Center, Museum or archive.
Moving Forward on the Second Design
For the second coin in the Highground Challenge Coin Series, Rebout wanted to focus on the park’s Vietnam War memorial called Fragments. “This is the first tribute that was dedicated at The Highground back in 1988 when the park was dedicated. Fragments is meant to symbolize ‘The Cost of Things.’ I look forward to seeing what you come up with!” said Rebout. The statue itself is made up of four interlocking, fragmented, figures. None of the figures is complete, but they support each other and represent the fragmentation of lives in war and in everyday life.
Our art team went over the history of the memorial and viewed as many pictures and depictions of the statue as they could find. The image above is one of many from The Highground website that they used for inspiration. After seeing what we created for the first Highground challenge coin, Rebout trusted our judgment to create a meaningful design that honors the memorial. “I obviously will give leeway for you guys to do what you think is best for the design of the coin,” he said. “The only thing I will say is that I do like it to pop somehow. So, for instance, the way that the first coin popped with The Highground logo in the center, and the flag etc, that's what really was amazing to me.”
This will be the second coin in the program. Moving forward, staff members at The Highground will randomly select days throughout the year to mint the next series of coins. The active list of pledgees on that day will determine how many coins are minted. For donors, the “challenge” part of the Highground Challenge Coin Program is getting more people to sign up and pledge donations so that more coins will be minted. Not only does this program encourage more donations but it also spreads the park’s message and gets people excited about receiving a piece of The Highground’s heritage in the form of a challenge coin.
While the artwork was the deciding factor for Rebout when deciding to partner with Signature Coins, we have also earned the trust of the entire Highground team with our ability to deliver fast and meet set deadlines. We offer free shipping and free rush orders to all of our clients, so Rebout is confident in our ability to deliver on time for all of the orders that will be coming randomly throughout the year.
Working With Signature Coins
Rebout was initially a little unsure about the process of starting a challenge coin program. The whole team at The Highground wanted to capture more than just the likeness of the park. The designs needed to be meaningful and to properly pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of our Nation’s veterans. Not only that, but they also plan on this challenge coin program extending far past just two coins. They needed a partner they could trust to make thoughtful designs and deliver high-quality coins for an extended period.
We rose to the challenge and exceeded the team’s expectations. Not only did our art team deliver the perfect design, but Rebout also found that our customer service was better than he could have imagined. Through the whole design process, Rebout was astounded by the fact that whenever he had a question, he could just call and someone would get him an answer in no time at all. He admitted to shopping around and looking at roughly 15 other challenge coin companies before finding us, and in the end, our responsiveness helped him choose to partner with us. “For me, this took the fear out of ordering such an important piece from a company in which we hadn’t met any of the employees, we put our trust into Signature Coins, and they delivered,” he said.
Now that Rebout and his team have taken delivery on the first series of coins, they are excited to move forward with designs featuring monuments and tributes all over the park like Fragments. Our artists understand the importance of creating expressive and impactful artwork that does justice in representing an organization’s mission. We are proud of the final products we have created so far and are moving forward with excitement at the prospect of making new designs for The Highground Challenge Coin Program and the beautiful tributes of the park.