As people are counting their pennies more closely than ever, the United Way of Central Alberta tried to put a humourous face on it on Thursday. The 2009 campaign cabinet chair donned a special costume for the launch of the 2009 fundraising campaign.
Chair Darcy Mykytyshyn took to the podium at Red Deer Lodge in a pink pig costume to speak about a new program called the Penny Parade.
Around 2,200 piggy banks will be heading to Red Deer College and Red Deer Public and Red Deer Catholic schools at the end of September. The tagline for the fundraiser is: Make change, now more than ever.
“We all know that if you count the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves,” Mykytyshyn said.
It’s just one of the events planned for the fall to help the United Way of Central Alberta reach its goal of raising $2,103,103. The number has special meaning and references the one in three people in Central Alberta who will use services supported by the United Way.
The goal tops last year’s fundraising accomplishment of $2 million.
“Of course, 2008 was last year. We lived then in very different times. We had a booming economy. We had great confidence and a global environment that seemed to know no bounds,” Mykytyshyn said.
“While the world around us seems to have changed over the past 12 months, the challenges the United Way and its 33 agencies face on a daily basis have grown in volume and reach. Now more than ever the United Way needs your support.”
Mykytyshyn said the success of past campaigns has been all about leadership. He said it hasn’t been the leadership of one person or a team, but the leadership of everybody in each community, who believe things can be better, playing their own individual parts.
Brett Wilson, known for his role on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and as a co-founder and partner in FirstEnergy Capital Corp., was the keynote speaker at the kickoff that drew more than 500 people.
Wilson spoke about the positive role models his parents were when he was a boy growing up in North Battleford, Sask. His parents would do anything to be engaged in their community. His mother wasn’t able to swim, but once signed up for a fundraiser that would involve her having to swim in a pool. He said she put on a life-jacket and swam 40 laps.
“Charity is more of an opportunity than an obligation,” he said.