The war is half won.
Dressed in Civil War-era costume, United Way 2013 Campaign Chairman Tom Decosimo updated the troops on this year's crusade to raise $12 million -- United Way's "stretch goal" for its hallmark fundraising effort. In character as Confederate Gen. James Longstreet, Decosimo said his goal was simple:
"Rally the troops. Finish the job. Win the war," he said.
And so far, the battle is going well.
United Way's Campaign for the Common Good has raised $7.2 million, about 60 percent of its big goal. At a Wednesday luncheon, United Way volunteers and staffers heard updates on various teams' fundraising efforts and celebrated the progress. The annual hallmark fundraising effort helps United Way fund 42 agencies and programs that serve educational interests and provide support for needy families.
A brass group blasted oldies like "Seventy-Six Trombones" and "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White." And Decosimo carried the Civil War theme in his presentation, nodding to the Sheraton Read House's historical significance and Gen. Longstreet's war efforts in the Chattanooga area. Longstreet's troops poured into a gap through the Union line on the second day of fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga, forcing Union forces to retreat in disarray.
"We ran those Union soldiers all the way to Chattanooga and in fact to this very building," he said, standing in the hotel's ornate ballroom.
United Way usually hosts a low-key meeting to mark the midpoint of its campaign but decided to do something big to celebrate progress. The organization has raised nearly $600,000 more than it had this time last year, said Brent Taylor, vice president for resource development.
"This year we decided the momentum was really good and strong," he said. "We didn't want it to wane, so we jazzed it up a little bit."
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249.