Over 3,500 people came out to celebrate 100 years of change in The Magic City


United Way
The best time. (Cathey Sigmon Ritter)

Over 3,500 supporters attended United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA) Centennial Celebration on June 24 at City Walk. From fun performers and special guests to exciting announcements for future plans, it was an event to remember. Keep reading to get it on the fun and see what’s to come.

A special celebration

IMG 9212 Over 3,500 people came out to celebrate 100 years of change in The Magic City
Happy faces all around. (Cathey Sigmon Ritter)

The celebration included food trucks, a children’s activity area, interactive games by Centennial sponsors and a 50-ft. walkthrough timeline display of United Way’s 100-year history, as well as musical performances by Moon Taxi, Fly Dave and the Party Rockers, Act of Congress and many others.

Plus, over 40 United Way partner agencies came out to the event with displays of their services offered.

After a century of service, UWCA was thrilled to be able to thank supporters in such a fun and interactive way. Over the past century, UWCA’s fundraising has increased to more than $38 million, supporting over 100 programs, services and initiatives across six counties.

The day started with a bang when Zulu Connection pounded their drums and entertained the crowd in costumes and on stilts, leading up to the Pacesetter Campaign Kickoff. Lenora Goodman, joined by a choir, premiered the song “What a Difference,” co-written by Ruth Elaine Schram and Dr. Henry Panion, III and produced by Dr. Panion.

Big plans for the future

Centenial 6 Over 3,500 people came out to celebrate 100 years of change in The Magic City
So many fantastic performances. (Ben Johnson / Bham Now)

After the drum line and special song performance, it was time announce the 2023 goal for UWCA’s Pacesetter Campaign—a yearly fundraising initiative that lays an important foundation and sets the tone for the larger campaign in the fall.

DRUMROLL PLEASE… The Pacesetter team announced this year’s goal of $11 million, which will help those in need in Central Alabama and allow UWCA to continue serving the community in such an impactful way.

“We are challenging more than 100 pacesetter companies to come together, live united and show what a difference we can make to individuals in our community by raising $11 million.

Reaching the goal will be instrumental to funding critical programs, empowering individuals and creating lasting change; let’s continue to grow our community and set the pace for our 100th year campaign because our community is depending on us.”

Rebekah Elgin-Council, UWCA Pacesetter Chair

UWCA also announced a goal of increasing its endowment to $100 million through the “Forever United Campaign,” its strategic plan for the next century to allow UWCA to continue to be the community’s safety net in times of crisis.

Incredible partners made it happen

IMG 9526 Over 3,500 people came out to celebrate 100 years of change in The Magic City
Mascots from all the Bham teams showed up. (Cathey Sigmon Ritter)

Thanks to companies like Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Regions and many other dedicated sponsors, UWCA was able to host this community-wide celebration to show their gratitude to supporters in a huge way.

The Centennial Celebration was led by a team of amazing volunteers:

  • 100th Anniversary Chair – Craft O’Neal, O’Neal Industries
  • Centennial Celebration Chairs – Paula Drake, Regions, and Pam Cook, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United
  • Anniversary Dinners Chair – Mallie Ireland, former UWCA Board Chairman
  • Legacy Gift Chair – Jeff Stone, Brasfield & Gorrie
  • Community Projects Chairs – Krystal Drummond, Drummond Company, Inc. and Kimberly Jackson, Southern Co.

The celebration isn’t over

IMG 6588 Over 3,500 people came out to celebrate 100 years of change in The Magic City
Breaking ground! (United Way of Central Alabama)

To continue to celebrate UWCA’s 100-year legacy, UWCA will dedicate a community park in each of the six counties it serves. These community parks will focus on building long-term partnerships and creating sustainable resources the community can enjoy for years to come.

UWCA has already broken ground on the Jefferson County project at Franklin Park in Tarrant. Upcoming parks will be built at Stephens Park in Montevallo (Shelby County) and the Municipal Complex in Ragland (St. Clair County), with specific locations for Blount, Walker, and Chilton counties to come.

Stay tuned to see what United Way has in store for the next 100 years.

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Callie Puryear
Callie Puryear
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