United Way of Central Georgia sets $4.15 million fundraising goal

lmorris@macon.comSeptember 5, 2013 

Kicking off a four-month fundraising drive Thursday, United Way of Central Georgia set its campaign goal at $4.15 million.

The local United Way aims to raise money for more than 50 programs of 32 partner agencies in the midstate.

“We need today to think seriously,” said Bill Curry, 69, a Super Bowl champion and NCAA football coach who was the keynote speaker for the event at Macon’s Wilson Convention Center.

“We start the NFL season this week, and we started the college season last week, he said. “Contested athletes in the United States of America are expected to shoot for one thing -- the championship. I think that’s OK as long as it’s kept in perspective.”

Great teams -- regardless of whether they’re on the field -- share several characteristics including a single purpose, unselfishness, toughness, smarts and “they never, ever quit,” he said.

“You don’t win championships without having championships as the goal,” Curry said. “You don’t raise more money for the people who need it without setting the goals high and then shooting for it and working on it every single day.”

Curry’s NFL career included two Super Bowl titles -- in 1967 with the Green Bay Packers and in 1971 with Baltimore Colts -- and a stint as president of the NFL Players Association. He served as head football coach for Georgia Tech, the University of Alabama and the University of Kentucky. In 2008, he was named head coach of Georgia State University’s new football program.

The theme for this year’s United Way campaign is “Let’s Change the Story,” said 2013 campaign Chairwoman Theresa Robinson, external affairs manager for Georgia Power.

“By giving to United Way of Central Georgia, you are supporting programs and agencies that are improving conditions right here in the 14-county area that we serve,” Robinson said. “We help more than 100,000 people annually through the campaign. That’s one in four central Georgians.”

United Way President/CEO George McCanless said the role of the organization is to “raise money to empower the agencies who serve the community.”

But in addition to financial contributions, McCanless said he would like to see people actually help change the story of people in need.

“At the end of the day, it helps all of us,” he said.

McCanless said after the event that it’s challenging for the organization to decide each year’s goal, particularly in light of a struggling economy.

As announced in March, the 2012 campaign was short nearly $250,000 of reaching its $4.25 million goal.

“Last year, there was all the talk about the financial cliff, the elections, the sequestration, and not that it’s gotten measurably easier, ... but when we were talking about setting the (2013) goal, ... I said let’s set one that we would be proud of reaching,” McCanless said. “The demands on (the United Way agencies) are growing, not declining. ... We need to find ways to raise that extra money.”

United Way’s sixth annual auto raffle also was announced Thursday. Jeff Smith’s auto dealerships have donated a choice of four vehicles for the raffle -- a Kia Sorento, Kia Forte, Dodge Ram crew cab and a Jeep Wrangler. Tickets are $25 each which can be purchased at all SunTrust Bank, CB&T, and State Bank and Trust locations as well as The Telegraph, all Jeff Smith dealerships, the United Way, the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau and at www.unitedwaycg.com.

The drawing is Jan. 10.

To contact Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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