The United Way of Portage County kicked off its 2013 campaign at the Kent State University football opener Thursday evening.
This year's campaign goal of $1.1 million arrived written on a football passed to Flash, the Kent State mascot, at the start of the third quarter of play at Dix Stadium.
The campaign kickoff came as part of a tailgate celebration of the start of the football season and to mark the continued development of downtown Kent. The evening ended with a massive fireworks display sponsored by Ametek, United Way and The Portage Foundation.
Honorary campaign chairman is Jack Vresics, CEO of Step2 LLC in Streetsboro.
Phil Faluotico, director of motor engineering at Ametek and a member of the campaign committee of United Way, said he urges businesses to support the campaign because "it benefits their employees, family, friends and neighbors. Most people never imagine themselves in a position of needing United Way."
Matt French, vice president and general manager of Ametek's Kent division and honorary campaign chairman the previous two years, said he tells business people, "You don't only work here, you live here. You could be just one step away from needing help. That's why it's important" to support United Way.
French said any successful community needs four things: "A strong community, a strong economy, a strong governmental structure and strong education." He said the United Way helps support a successful community.
Brian D. Duchon, new president and CEO of United Way, said the goal is the same as last year's. The 2012 campaign fell just short, raising $1.075 million and encouraging officials that the community effort was recovering. Previous campaigns had fallen below the $1 million mark.
The United Way of Portage County funds 43 partner programs within 14 social service agencies in the county that touch thousands of residents. Duchon noted money raised in Portage County stays in the county, and decisions about funding are made by local community members.
"We're really covering a broad spectrum of services that form the foundation of a successful life," Duchon said.
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Facebook: Mike Sever, Record-Courier