It’s one of those rare repetitive stories that the public never gets tired of. The Estevan United Way continued its incredible run of success at its annual telethon over the weekend, raising a remarkable $347,953 in just 34 hours.
The UW entered the event with a goal of raising just over $335,000 and surpassed that Saturday afternoon with just under two hours to spare. In doing so, the local United Way beat their goal for the 35th year in the telethon’s 36 years of existence. They also became the first United Way in Canada to reach their fundraising goal for the 35th year.
Although she had little doubt that they would reach their goal, UW president Roberta DeRosier said it was still a huge thrill when they surpassed their target on Saturday.
“It was absolutely incredible,” DeRosier said. “You always think that the people of Estevan are going to step up, but in the back of your head you think am I going to be the one that doesn’t make it? But once again the people of Estevan stepped up in a really huge fashion and we so appreciate it.”
All of the money raised during the telethon stays within the community and is distributed to 17 member agencies that provide worthwhile services for Estevan residents.
DeRosier said as an employee of one of the member agencies, she sees first hand the impact the money raised through the telethon has on the community.
“I get to see it everyday, what the United Way dollars go towards,” said Derosier who works at Estevan Diversified Services. “These people that we are here for this weekend, their lives change because of what we do in these two days.”
Derosier has been a volunteer director with the UW for a number of years but noted that serving as president over the past year has given her a renewed appreciation for the United Way and her fellow members.
“We have just over 20 board members and we truly are family on this board,” she said. “We all work together, and we are all family.”
As has been the case for each of the past 35 years, the telethon kicked off Friday morning and began winding its way towards their goal with help from entertainment provided by a number of local schools, individuals and groups.
Entering the final stretch Saturday afternoon, the total sat at around $125,000, which was well short of their goal. However there was no cause to panic as the UW was well aware that two of its top supporters — SaskPower and Sherritt Coal — had yet to present their always sizable contributions.
Both organizations again came through in spades. The employees of Sherritt Coal and the company combined to raise over $92,000.
Roughly one hour after the Sherritt presentation, SaskPower was up and they turned heads with a cheque for over $102,000. In both cases the money was raised through payroll check offs and other events and then was matched by management.
The two donations put the United Way within striking distance and they then topped their goal when the group behind the Eve of Destruction event at the Estevan Motor Speedway donated just over $7,500.
With their goal surpassed, Derosier placed a call to Jacline Abray-Nyman, the CEO of United Way Canada, who confirmed that the Estevan organization was again the first in the country to reach its fundraising target.
“I can confirm that you are the first in Canada,” Abray-Nyman told Derosier and the audience at the Estevan Legion Hall.
Derosier said it was a big thrill to make the phone call to the United Way’s head office.
“It was absolutely incredible,” she said. “I didn’t think it would feel like that. I had to choke back the tears on that one.”
The pledges continued to roll in even after the goal was reached and when the telethon went off the air at 5 o’clock, they were sitting at just over $347,000 which is one of the largest totals in the telethon’s history.