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United Way of Western Nebraska exceeds goal
March 05, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Helping make this year’s United Way campaign a successful one is, from left, Steph Black, Carol Gifford, John Marshall, Brady Shaul, Ruben Hernandez, Triniti Burgner and Jeana Allen.

It came down to a last minute push, but United Way of Western Nebraska went over the top of its $370,000 campaign goal by raising $375,688.

“When we announced the campaign goal last year, we knew we would need help from the entire community to reach that goal,” said campaign co-chair Carol Gifford. “Little did we know that’s exactly what was going to happen.”

Three weeks out from the deadline, the campaign was $60,000 short of its goal. One week out, it was still $30,000 short.
“That was when Bob Pile from Panhandle COOP presented a $30,000 community challenge to raise the rest,” said campaign co-chairman John Marshall. “He personally donated a hundred of his own dollars to the United Way to get it rolling. The media and social media took the challenge and ran with it. In that final week, we were able to reach and exceed our goal. It was a community effort all around.”

United Way executive director Steph Black said this was the first time they’ve had to issue a challenge to reach their goal. “We had a lot of people give above and beyond their regular donations and we had a lot of people get involved who hadn’t before. It’s a big reminder that it takes a village and that we have an awesome community that steps up when they know there’s a need.”

Black said the distribution process will begin in early April and she invited volunteers to apply with her office if they would like to help determine where the dollars will be spent.

The 2015-2016 campaign is now underway with some changes in the upcoming special events schedule. Last year, United Way special events accounted for about $49,500 of the fundraising effort.
The upcoming season starts on May 30 with the popular 5K Color Dash event through the community. That date was chosen because students are out of school for the summer and vacations are usually in the future, so the entire family can participate.

The biggest event, the Rubber Duck Dash, is scheduled for July 25 at the Trails West YMCA Camp in Riverside Park in Scottsbluff.
Special Events Coordinator Jeana Allen said the people like to see the rubber ducks go into the river, but in past years the river has often been too high to safely launch. After some research, she found the river was at its lowest level at the end of July. Plus, the event is before the kickoff of the Scotts Bluff County Fair.

The fundraising event season will wrap up on Sept. 14 with the annual golf tournament at the Scotts Bluff Country Club.

“We’re anxious to see how the change of dates will affect how much money we can raise,” Allen said. “We really think the Rubber Duck Dash will sell out and the Color Dash, as a kickoff to summer, will have a lot of participants. We’re excited about it.”
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