Big numbers, big night for United Way

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  • | 12:00 p.m. September 26, 2008
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by David Chapman

Staff Writer

The United Way of Northeast Florida launched its 2008 “Live United” fundraising campaign Thursday by throwing a bash that transformed the Landing into a celebratory party.

“I’m very excited and extremely optimistic about this year,” said Marty Lanahan, United Way 2008 campaign chair and area president of Regions Bank. “Even in down economic times, helping people through the United Way is something people just want to be a part of.”

The organization’s 2008 fundraising goal was unveiled at $26,350,000 — an increase over the 2007 goal of nearly $250,000 and the only such goal increase from a metropolitan United Way organization in Florida.

As part of its mission, United Way proceeds go toward creating opportunities for area children, youth, seniors and families in a multitude of ways.

“It’s a big number, but I know the Jacksonville community has always had the power to make real change happen in people’s lives,” said Lanahan. “We’re going to hit our goal … we’re not a flat over the previous year kind of city.”

The organization has a jump start on the goal, as it was announced $7,165,280 has already been collected by 16 pacesetter organizations — local companies that begin campaigning early, with results often being an early indicator of final results — and early gifts.

Lanahan also announced the organization’s third ever $1 million dollar contribution by CSX CEO, Chair and President Michael Ward, following the $1 million donations of Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Weaver in 1999 and David and Linda Stein in 2006.

“Michael’s my new best friend,” Lanahan joked during the announcement. “But I’m looking to make a lot more best friends this year.”

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