The United Way/Community Health Charities campaign to raise $7.2 million to support agencies that help thousands in Lincoln and Lancaster County “lifted off” Sept. 8 with 500-plus supporters at Duncan Aviation headquarters.
The place and theme reflected the interests of the 2016 campaign co-chairs, Connie and Todd Duncan.
“We wanted to blend my passion for children and Todd’s lifetime love of aviation,” said Connie Duncan, a former teacher. The event included 91 fourth- and fifth-graders from Arnold Elementary School who followed the aeronautics theme with a vocal rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly.”
In their remarks, the Duncans cited recent Vital Signs data that demonstrated the many challenges in the community, including more than 40 percent of children in Lincoln Public Schools who qualify for free or reduced lunches. That’s an alarming number, Todd Duncan said. “We need to dig deep,” he urged.
Russ Sebek, this year’s Pacesetter campaign chair, announced that early gifts from 44 organizations have helped the campaign reach 29 percent of the total fundraising goal. Pacesetter dollars, combined with the State of Nebraska workplace campaign underway at the time of the kick-off, have resulted in 39 percent of the campaign total raised to date, he said.
Sixty-one agencies are supported by the United Way/Community Health Charities campaign. Alex Torres spoke on behalf of one of them, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lincoln/Lancaster County. The dark-haired young man shared his personal story of growing from a troubled, unfocused youth to a senior in high school, ready for graduation and college thanks to Boys & Girls Club programs.
“Your dollars will make a difference,” Connie Duncan noted in closing. “It’s about successful outcomes, like Alex.”