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Guests cheer as the Cedar Valley United Way announces pledges totaling $2,933,470 at the United way Breakfast of Champions Wednesday in Cedar Falls.

When the Cedar Valley United Way announced results of its latest campaign last month, it created another moment of community pride.

The 2017-18 fundraising campaign resulted in an 8 percent increase from the previous year.

“We sincerely thank the generous donors for their financial gifts and pledges of support,” said Sheila Baird, president of the Cedar Valley United Way. “Most importantly we extend our thanks to our generous co-chairs who found the time in their busy schedules to lead the campaign.”

This year’s total came tantalizingly close to the $3 million threshold. Pledges totaling $2, 933,470 were announced at the Breakfast of Champions event held last month at the Hilton Garden Inn, where 300 people gathered to celebrate the end of another successful campaign.

Much of that success can be attributed to work of the three co-chairs of the campaign – Tony Thompson, Black Hawk County sheriff; Dan Trelka, Waterloo chief of police; and Jeff Olson, Cedar Falls chief of police.

Last summer, the three co-chairs went into the campaign with the kind of community enthusiasm we have come to expect from these leaders.

“In law enforcement, you see a lot of people in need,” Olson had stated at the onset of the campaign. “When we get together, there’s a lot we can do for those in need.”

For six consecutive years, the Cedar Valley United Way campaign broke through the $3 million mark, before dipping slightly below that over the previous two campaigns.

This year, the campaign came within a whisker of getting there again.

Baird said she was pleasantly surprised by the fundraising total, pointing out that charitable contributions across the nation were not trending up over this past year.

In recent years, businesses around the Cedar Valley have done a great job of getting employees involved, not only through meetings and distribution of informational materials, but through fun events in which people pay to wear casual clothing, have potlucks, enter various contests — and many other clever events.

Thirteen businesses were recognized for having 100 percent participation this past year:

Adams Evenson & Co, Amperage Marketing & Fundraising, Cedar Valley Preschool and Child Care, Community Bank & Trust, Family & Children’s Council, First National Bank, Struxture Architects, Great Western Bank, Iowa Legal Aid, Nelson Properties/Midtown Development, Lamar Advertising of Waterloo, PDCM Insurance and Cedar Valley United Way.

At the Rally in the Valley last summer – the official kickoff of this latest campaign, board chairman and KWWL General Manager Jim McKernan stated:

“We need everyone’s help to do this. This is, dollar for dollar, as good a donation as you’ll make in your life in terms of community investment.”

We wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, since the dollars raised during these campaigns stay in this area, making a local impact. The funds raised through these campaigns have great significance to our communities. The United Way distributes grant funding to nonprofit community organizations. Among the services those organizations provide are after-school and child care programs, disaster relief services, elderly transportation, community meals, help for victims of domestic violence and help for families struggling to make ends meet.

The co-chairs this year, and in the past, are important members of the community with impactful positions. Definitely, they have busy schedules. Leading a campaign for a good portion of the year is a massive commitment of time and energy.

We thank all these community-minded people for this commitment and we hope they have come away with a sense of fulfillment for their efforts.

This also is a great time to recognize the co-chairs who have been tabbed to help lead the next Cedar Valley United Way campaign. Husband and wife team, Becky and Gary Bertch, of Bertch Cabinets, have agreed to take on this commitment. We wish them all the best in their upcoming fundraising efforts.

We thank all of those with the Cedar Valley United Way organization and within our community businesses who coordinated fundraising efforts. And we thank each and every individual donor who gave toward this latest campaign.

You have all done your part to help make the Cedar Valley a better place to live.

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