Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2013

SALISBURY — Friday’s final meeting of the 2014 Rowan County United Way campaign could be summed up by a snip, a rip and a grip.
First the “snip:” Once Kiwanis Club President Tyler Weant presented Campaign Chairman Jim Duncan with a check for $9,125 from the club, United Way had reached 100 percent of its goal of $1.825 million.
Reaching the goal meant Ronnie Smith, part of the campaign cabinet, could finally shave the long beard he had grown during the fundraising period.
As the song “Celebrate” blared in the YMCA’s gymnasium annex and people rushed toward the stage to dance and rejoice, many participants also took turns with scissors, snipping at Smith’s beard.
Some 48 scissors had been circulated in the audience.
It was not unlike a winning basketball team taking turns cutting down the net after a tournament championship.
The “rip” was the sound Duncan made 11 times, opening up envelopes containing the names of the 12 United Way contributors who were finalists for a new car.
If Duncan called out a name, it meant that finalist was eliminated.
It came down to Danny Wright, a Freightliner employee, and April Kraus, who works in human resources for the Hefner VA Medical Center.
Kraus won.
“Until I was up there (on the stage), it wasn’t too bad,” Kraus said. “The nerves kicked in. This is the first thing I’ve (ever) won. I guess when I do it, I do it big.”
Gerry Wood Automotive will provide the car, based on another drawing among four Salisbury dealerships. Brad Wood gave Kraus his card and told her she would be able to shop among Gerry Wood’s Chrysler, Kia, Honda and Jeep offerings.
The “grip” came from Greg Dunn, retired executive with The Real Reel Corp. and Multi-Wall Packaging, who gripped the trophy associated with “The Jackie Award,” named for tireless United Way staff member Jackie Harris.
Started two years ago, the award goes to the member of the campaign cabinet who has contributed the most of their time and talent to the campaign.
Duncan said Dunn had spent “endless hours of traveling and speaking to individuals and companies and conducting campaigns,” providing an excellent example of putting service above himself for the community’s sake.
There was some orchestrated drama toward the end, when Duncan first announced the campaign had fallen short, meeting only 99.5 percent of its goal.
He put the total at $1,815,875.
To reach that figure, the campaign had formed a SWAT team 24 hours earlier, which included a “telethon” and personal visits to many companies and individuals who had not yet made a gift or pledge.
That effort brought in commitments of more than $100,000.
Then came Weant’s presentation of the $9,125 check from the Kiwanis Club. “If our calculations are correct,” Weant told Duncan, “this should allow you to meet your goal.”
The Kiwanis Club served as luncheon host for both the kickoff of the United Way campaign and Friday’s finale.
Duncan, winner of The Jackie Award last year, said he was ecstatic about the campaign’s reaching its goal for the 15 United Way supported agencies.
“I just thank the Lord for it,” he said. “I give him the praise.”
Duncan asked the campaign cabinet, the public relations committee and United Way staff to join him on stage.
“These folks on stage with me have such a heart for our 15 agencies and their clients and members,” Duncan said.
“They have sacrificed greatly this year to make our goal so we could announce to our wonderful agencies that we made it. They have done everything and more that I have asked from them.”
Kraus, winner of the car, said the new vehicle will come at an opportune time for her family. She and husband, Mike, have three boys, including one with a learner’s permit, and one scheduled to start driver’s education early next year.
Kraus designated her United Way contribution to the Girl Scouts.
The other 11 finalists, besides Wright, were Suzanne Burgess, who works for Rowan County; Mark Childers, Piedmont Natural Gas; Rick Dunlap, Southeast Middle School; Buddy Hampton, Salisbury Police Department; Dennis Issacson; Elizabeth Lancaster, Landis Elementary School; Lisa Markham, Healthcare Management; and three other employees of Freightliner, Kurt Richardson, Jim Horton and Melanie Clark.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.