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Sponsored by Ameritas, the September kickoff breakfast of the United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County/Community Health Charities' year-long campaign to raise $7 million for 64 community agencies had all the earmarks of a marathon — sprinters who shot out of the starting gate and countless others who will work hard for a big finish.

“We are in good times economically for many people, but not for everybody,” said Jim Barone, campaign chair and master of ceremonies for the event.

Keynote speaker Ben Greenfield suffered a massive heart attack during his senior year in high school. It would be nearly a decade later before physicians would diagnose Ben with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. United Way and Community Health Charities agencies supported Ben and his family with services and, today, Ben works to raise awareness of United Way, Community Health Charities and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

“United Way is there for us when we fall,” he said.

Pacesetters -- organizations that run their workplace giving campaigns prior to the official kickoff -- have already raised $2.9 million toward the goal. Twenty-five organizations increased their giving by at least 3 percent over last year.

“There are many in our community going through difficult times,” Barone said in closing. “Our partner agencies are making a difference but, to continue doing so, they need you.”

To learn more about United Way and the agencies it supports, go to unitedwaylincoln.org.

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