The 2023 Tri-County Campaign Kickoff
United Way of Central Florida announced on Thursday its highest fundraising goal for the organization to date in front of a crowd of donors, volunteers and community members at LEGOLAND Florida Resort.
Campaign Chair and former NFL Tight-End Desmond Clark, along with Resource Development chair Erica Lupercio, announced that the total fundraising goal for 2023-2024 is $20.4M – over double the goal for last year.
“We know this is a big goal,” CDMO Ileana Kniss said. “But last year we blew our goal out of the water. We know we can do it this year too.”
To help achieve this goal, companies and organizations choose to run their campaign early to help kickoff the year. These companies are called “Pacesetters” and this year, raised more than $335,000.
After watching a video of a woman’s success story through receiving assistance from a domestic violence shelter that United Way helps fund, Lupercio stated, “These are the kinds of stories that you get to be a part of.”
Board Chair Michael Tamney recognized the Top Supporters of 2022 and encouraged creativity in workplace campaigns. “Thrive took us to the movies last year for a special screening of Avatar, the Way of Water. We all have been to Black & Brew for the Pumpkin Latte giveaway and Jeannette Crowley even got Superintendent Heid and other Polk County Public School employees to shave their beards for a good cause!”
President and CEO Christina Criser Jackson also thanked the organization’s top supporters, including Publix Super Markets, Inc. and Publix Super Markets Charities, Polk County Board of County Commissioners and the George Jenkins Foundation.
One of the most memorable moments of the event was the keynote address from Desmond Clark, speaking on the help that he received as a young boy that helped him reach his full potential. Clark received a standing ovation.
Clark is an alum of Kathleen High School, who participated in the event by sending their cheerleaders and marching band, bringing excitement and energy to an early morning.
Lastly, UWCF premiered it’s 2023 Campaign Video to the audience.
Criser Jackson shared, “We work tirelessly to improve lives in the areas of education, health, financial stability and basic needs. And just like in a football game, it takes the whole team working together to move the starting yard line closer to the goal. That’s what we’re doing here. We are coming together to meet our goal of uniting and empowering everyone in Polk, Hardee and Highlands County to reach their full potential. We are UNITED in Purpose.”