United Way shatters record, raising over $3.1 million

For the Metro Wire

United Way of Portage County raised more than $3.1 million during its annual campaign.

United Way of Portage County Executive Director Sue Wilcox announced at the organization’s victory celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at SentryWorld that the community’s efforts during the campaign raised $3,125,180 in 2018.

The amount surpasses this year’s goal of $2.95 million, and tops last year’s announced campaign total of $3,048,991.

“This year’s theme is ‘What’s your story?’ For me, the best part of the story is being here with all of you, surrounded by friends and family,” said Wilcox after announcing the total. “Your kindness and concern for others is [sic] what makes all of this possible. The programs that we support and the people we serve is only possible because of each of you – a caring and generous community.”

This year’s Campaign Drive Chairs—Kathy Davies, Vikki Nason, Amber Houck, Shannon Semmerling, and Anna Weisbrod—were on hand at the Victory Celebration to talk about their experiences and thank all who helped.

“Ultimately, this campaign is not about money. It is about changing lives,” said Davies on behalf of the Drive Chairs. “The campaign is about caring and kindness. Our goal is to reach out a hand in support of our most vulnerable populations. None of us can predict the hardships that lie ahead. We can, however, be united in our effort to support one another when our friends and neighbors are in need of a hand up.”

In addition to the campaign total reveal, the Victory Celebration also served up a gameshow-style conclusion to the LIVE UNITED – GIVE UNITED Sweepstakes. A 2019 vehicle worth up to $43,000 donated by Scaffidi Motors was awarded to Kirstin Barbian, Plover, during a Lucky Rollers type game where event emcees Steve Martin and Carrie Dreger had five finalists roll dice to determine the prizewinners. Barbian received automatic entries into the sweepstakes with her donation of $52 or more during the 2018 campaign.

The other four finalists were Chelsie Kohnen, Wisconsin Rapids, who won a $2,500 necklace donated by Lee Ayers Jewelers and created and designed by Thomas Dailing Designs; Kate O’Malley, Stevens Point, who won a $1,500 John Deere lawn tractor donated by Simplicity Credit Union; Jasper Alioto, Plainfield, who won a $1,300 65-inch television and Nintendo Switch package donated by Skyward, Inc.; and Paul Brezovec, Stevens Point, who won a $1,000 airline gift certificate donated by Marathon Travel and AIG.

Representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Wisconsin, a funded partner program of United Way of Portage County, helped reveal this year’s campaign total during the Victory Celebration. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is just one small chapter in this story; just one of the 30 partner programs supported by United Way,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Wisconsin Executive Director Dawn Cherek. “Because of each and every one of you, and your support of United Way, families and individuals are rewriting their own story throughout our community.”

United Way of Portage County’s mission is to bring people and resources together to achieve measurable results that improve people’s lives and strengthen the community. It does so by focusing on the building blocks for a better life – education, health, and financial stability.

To learn more, visit www.unitedwaypoco.org.