Heroic effort turns up $1.1 million for charity

Even the superheroes of the United Way of Mesa County — everyone in the community who donated to the United Way’s “Heroes Among Us” yearlong, fundraising campaign — could not overtake last year’s fundraising benchmark.

This year’s donations total $1,113,674, an 8.5 percent decrease from last year, which was a record, according to the United Way.

The fundraising goal, as it is every year, was to surpass the previous year’s mark. Though it fell short, it was a true showing of generosity from the community, said Amanda Crysler, development director of the United Way.

When the economy turned sour, the community could have hidden, kept their wallets guarded and their loose change stashed. Instead, it rallied, proving true this year’s United Way slogan:

There really are “Heroes Among Us.”

“I’m happy,” Crysler said when asked about the final donation tally.

“I think it shows how much people want to join in their community. We didn’t have to pass a million dollars, and we did.”

To show their appreciation, organizers dressed in their finest Sunday-go-to-meeting capes, cloaks and cowls and thanked all this year’s superheroes Thursday. At a not-so-secret gathering, high among the rooftops of downtown Grand Junction, on the top floor of Roper
Music’s building, 136 N. Fifth St., several heroes stepped forward, modestly accepting awards for their company’s or their own generosity.

It was made clear where that money was going. A recovering alcoholic spoke to the estimated crowd of 80 people about his struggles. How, after years of drinking, he found himself alone.

Without a dime to buy another bottle or a friend to turn to, he found the Salvation Army.

Funded in part by local donations to the United Way, the Salvation Army’s alcohol rehabilitation program saved David Allgood’s life.

Sebrina Kelley found herself in jail in California. Her children were taken from her. Forty days later, when she was released, she made her way to Grand Junction. In the midst of the lowest point of her journey, she found Catholic Outreach of Mesa County.

Both David and Sebrina thanked the “Heroes Among Us” and received rousing applause. No one needed X-ray vision to see who the true superheroes in the room were.

The United Way will continue to accept donations for its “Heroes Among Us” fundraising campaign through the end of March.

Sixty-one programs, a record amount, have applied for United Way funding.


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