The United Way of the Flint Hills got its 2019 Pacesetters off and running Thursday with a kickoff party at the Lyon County History Center.
This year’s campaign chair is Emporia’s Radio Stations General Manager and KVOE Morning Show Host Ron Thomas. He is no stranger to the United Way, having been a donor for “decades” and serving on the Board of Directors since 2015. He said it is an “honor and a privilege” to serve as this year’s campaign chair, having been able to see first-hand the impact the United Way has on the communities it serves over the years.
United Way of the Flint Hills Executive Director Jami Reever said Thomas was a great person to serve as this year’s campaign chair.
“Ron has been one of our greatest supporters and greatest advocates for a long time,” she said. “When I asked him if he would be this year’s campaign chair, he quickly said, ‘Yes.’ I don’t think I was even able to get the whole question out. That’s a testament to his commitment to our community and how much he loves it.”
Leading up to Thursday’s event, Thomas and Reever have been able to visit a couple of this year’s Pacesetters such as Simmons Pet Food and Wolf Creek. Both said they were able to use those meetings to highlight some of the success stories of the United Way’s community partners and show the Pacesetters just how important their contributions will be.
“They are awesome,” Thomas said of the community partners; the organizations which receive funding from the United Way. “They are the driving force behind the United Way. We are excited to highlight them and all of the work they do. Their stories, quite frankly, are knee-buckling.”
Thursday’s event kicked off the 2019 Pacesetter Campaign during which 25 Pacesetter organizations will begin fundraising to, quite literally, set the pace for the campaign as a whole. After a couple weeks, this year’s goal will be announced. At that point, more than a hundred businesses and organizations along with thousands of individuals will begin to play their part in donating to either one of the 23 Community Partner organizations of their choosing or the United Way, which will then distribute that funding throughout the organizations.
Reever said one of the special aspects of the United Way is that all of the money raised stays in the community. That is part of what prompted this year’s slogan: “Live Local, Give Local.”
She said it also takes support from everyone to help make each year a success. Last year the fundraising goal of $555,000 was exceeded when the campaign brought in $555,415.
“Every dollar counts at the United Way,” Reever said. “We have individuals who give a dollar a paycheck, we have individuals who give $5 a paycheck, we have individuals who give more than that. We just believe that when we all do a little that we can do a lot together as a community.”