By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: September 2011
Jeff Faust of 1st Bank Oklahoma, one of the major sponsors of the United Way Round-Up Campaign Kick-Off, and Donna Ross, executive director of the Rogers County United Way.
Most people associate the word “kick-off” in September with a football game. But on Thursday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m., the Rogers County United Way will kick off their annual fundraising campaign with the 2011 United Way Round-Up Campaign Kick-Off at Ne-Mar Shopping Center in Claremore.
Rogers County United Way Executive Director Donna Ross is excited about this year’s country music theme for the outdoor festival. “Last year’s theme was back to the 60s, with a local band called the Vikings, and we had so much fun!” Donna says. “This year, a local country music band, Rusty Grove, will be volunteering their services, and we expect that to be wonderful as well.”
The festival is free to the public. Some bleacher seating will be available, but Donna encourages everyone to bring their lawn chairs and blankets for a comfortable and relaxing experience. Andy Hogan, famous for his reenactments of Will Rogers, will be present in the role of Will himself, and he will be mingling with festival attendees throughout the evening. “This is sure to be a crowd pleaser no matter what,” Donna says. Another attraction sure to please the younger crowd will be The Amazing Christopher, who will return this year with his famous balloon creations.
For the event, Ne-Mar restaurants – Cherry Berry, Little Caesar’s, Carl’s Coney Island, and Bill & Ruth’s – as well as Papa John’s across the street, will stay open late to provide food and drinks. Some of the restaurants have committed to donating a portion of their proceeds that evening toward United Way efforts.
Donna would also like to remind the community about the Skeet Smith Memorial Golf Tournament the weekend of September 23, held at Heritage Hills Golf Course. Entries will be accepted through September 19. “This used to be the traditional first event of the campaign year before we created the festival,” says Donna. “Several of our events have gone on for many years, and all are looked forward to every year.”
Raising awareness for United Way efforts and agencies is what the annual campaign kick-off is really all about, according to Donna. Booths for the 26 agencies in the Rogers County United Way chapter will be set up around the festival with educational materials available. Three agencies (Safenet Services, Rogers County Youth Services, and William W. Barnes Children’s Advocacy Center) will give short, informative testimonials during intermission periods of the concert.
Fundraising is an important part of the process too – Donna states that the goal this year is to raise $510,000. Sponsors for the event include 1st Bank Oklahoma, RCB Bank, Ne-Mar Shopping Center, Grand Bank, and Melton Car Dealerships. The theme sponsor this year is Stillwater Milling Company.
The kick-off starts the fundraising year, but also culminates the Rogers County United Way’s Trailblazer Campaign, which runs through August every year and provides what Donna calls “seed money” for the next year. The Trailblazer Campaign is sponsored by 1st Bank Oklahoma, RCB Bank, City of Claremore, and Town of Chelsea.
“We far exceeded last year’s goal with our kick-off campaign and we hope to do the same this year,” Donna says. “This is the most generous community you will find anywhere.”
919 N. Lynn Riggs Blvd.Claremore, OK 74018