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July 10, 2014

UW kicks off pilot campaign

Attempting a high-five record Sept. 2

TERRE HAUTE — Dottie King remembers the day she saw a young man leaving St. Ann’s Dental Clinic after having 17 teeth pulled.

He had not received sufficient dental care before that day so his need was dramatic. That was unlike King, who had visited the dentist regularly since childhood, but still found getting a tooth filled not on her list of fun things to do.

“I thought to myself, ‘I never have thought about the blessing of dental care,’” King recalled, sharing that story on Thursday morning with other volunteers for the United Way of the Wabash Valley.

On another day while volunteering at Ryves Center, King, now president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, said she met a young girl who wanted to be a nurse, or an astronaut or a ballerina — well, the girl had goals. And, the child was benefiting from the many opportunities offered to at-risk youth and low-income families at the community center.

“I wondered how many United Way agencies will impact that girl’s life,” King recalled.

Volunteering at agencies that receive United Way funding, she said, not only helps people receiving services, but it also lets the volunteer connect personally with the reason for helping.

“The reason we do what we do is that there are faces and lives and homes that are impacted by what we do,” King said during the 2014 United Way Pilot Campaign Kickoff in Rooney Library at SMWC. “Most of us don’t peel back the layers to see those who aren’t as blessed as we are.”

As campaign chairman of this year’s effort, King pulled out a megaphone and revisited her youthful cheerleading days as she encouraged the participating pilot companies to support ongoing fundraising efforts because the member agencies need financial support each year.

“You have to be cheerleaders in your company and emphasize that the need goes on,” King said.

Mayor Duke Bennett also addressed the kickoff audience, noting that about half of the campaign year’s funding is raised during the pilot program, which is in advance of the organization’s full-on fundraising efforts starting in September.

“The pilot companies set the pace,” Bennett noted.

The pilot companies are Ampacet, Bemis, City of Terre Haute, Clabber Girl, Duke Energy, Dupont, Elanco, Fifth Third Bank, Novelis Corp., Old National Bank and Old National Insurance, Providence Medical Group, Real Estate Division, Riddell National Bank, Terre Haute Chevrolet, Terre Haute Savings Bank, The Tribune-Star, TRW, UAP Clinic, Union Hospital, Union Hospital-Clinton, Vectren and WTWO/WAWV.

UWWV executive director Troy Fears told the Tribune-Star that last year the pilot companies raised  $706,116.  “We are hopeful that with the incentives we have this year that they can increase that number,” Fears said.

One of the incentives for this year’s campaign is a chance at a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro in the “Driven to Give” campaign. For each new $50 donation that a person makes, the donor receives one entry into the drawing for the car.

The car, donated by Terre Haute Chevrolet, will be presented at the annual UWWV dinner next year.

Another incentive is the opportunity to receive a matching grant from the Indiana Association of United Ways.

New gifts of more than $100 earn a dollar-for-dollar match up to $185,450. The UWWV participated in the matching grant program a couple of years ago to help start a mobile market, which now takes fresh produce into neighborhoods and sells it at discounted costs.

The money raised in a new matching grant effort will go to a kindergarten camp program that will prepare children to begin kindergarten.

Fears said the United Way’s initiative of Healthier by 2020 has been leading people in the Wabash Valley toward a healthier lifestyle for more than a year.

The main goal is to lower the obesity rate in a state where about 30 percent of all adults are considered obese. To do that, UWWV has had three initiatives — the Mobile Market to provide healthy food choices, the Family Teaching Kitchen to teach people to make quick nutritious meals at a reduced cost, and the new Swim By 7 program to teach all children to swim and not be afraid of the water.

Another program that has taken off in recent weeks is called iWalk.

James Twitchell of Union Hospital explained that the program encourages employers and people to make the community healthier by starting walking groups. The plan is to have two or three walking groups in each participating county, he said.

A new group for people trying to stop smoking is planned to start in September in Fairbanks Park. Another group called Backpacking Babies is now active in the Prairie Creek area for new mothers wanting to get into shape.

Information about the walking groups — such as schedules and how to start one — is available online at www.iwalkwabashvalley.org.

Another United Way initiative Fears highlighted was the kickoff event for the fundraising campaign, which in the past has been a breakfast event.

This year, however, the kickoff is an attempt to set a world record with a High-Five For Kids chain.

Set for Sept. 2 at Hulman Center in Terre Haute, anyone age 10 or older is invited to participate in the attempt to set a world record as a line of people pass along high fives. The current record is 1,391, Fears said, estimating that it will take about an hour for a high-five chain to be successful.

Participants must be able to stand in line for more than an hour. Registration is free online at high5forkids.eventbrite.com. Event T-shirts will be sold for $5.

For more information about that event, call the United Way office at 812-235-6287 or go online to www.uwwv.org.

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