The Tulsa Area United Way has officially kicked off its annual campaign and announced a goal of $24,900,000.
The kick off and goal announcement were held during halftime of the MidFirst Bank Backyard Bowl, the legendary annual football game between Jenks and Union High Schools, on Friday, Aug. 31, at the University of Tulsa's Chapman Stadium.
The announcement marked the first time the Tulsa Area United Way has launched its campaign during the popular Jenks-Union game. A large crowd of fans witnessed the announcement.
"Football and the Tulsa Area United Way's annual campaign are two of our community's most beloved fall traditions," said Mark R. Graham, President and CEO. "It was a natural fit to kick off our campaign and announce our goal at the Jenks-Union game."
Last year, TAUW surpassed its goal of $24,556,573 by $190,310 by raising a total of $24,746,883. More than 1,500 companies and organizations and 50,000 individuals contributed to the 2011 campaign, and United Way officials hope to increase those numbers this year, Graham said.
Joining Graham to make the halftime announcement was Chet Cadieux, president of QuikTrip Corporation, who is serving as the chairman of this year's United Way campaign, and Ed Fariss, president of MidFirst Bank in Tulsa. Students from Jenks and Union High Schools also assisted the United Way in announcing its goal.
"The Tulsa Area United Way serves more than 630,000 people in northeast Oklahoma each year through its 61 partner agencies," Cadieux said. "That's 2,000 people a day. It's important for all of us to come together to provide support for our friends and neighbors when they need it. There's no other way for folks to have such a broad impact on their community."
The Tulsa Area United Way's 15 Trailblazer companies and organizations - who began their campaigns in support of the United Way earlier this summer and increased the size of their campaigns by at least 10 percent - were recognized at halftime during the game.
The evening also featured the presentation of the Tulsa Area United Way campaign video, produced by Flying Colors of Tulsa.
"We are proud to partner with MidFirst Bank, Union Public Schools and Jenks Public Schools and participate in this popular and exciting event," Graham said.
This year, many contributors to the local United Way campaign will be able to have their donations matched dollar-for-dollar through a variety of challenge grant opportunities, Graham said.
In addition, nearly 5,000 volunteers participated in the Tulsa Area United Way's annual Day of Caring on Friday, Sept. 7, one of the nation's largest single days of community service.
The local United Way campaign will run through Nov. 8. For more information, to get involved or to make a contribution, call 918-583-7171 or visit www.tauw.org.