CARDINGTON — “Go, Fight, Win” is the 2019-2020 campaign theme that was kicked off last Monday at the annual dinner for United Way of Morrow County.
Lots of inspiration and cheers came from the speakers that included Mount Gilead cheerleading coach Nikki Vanderkooi and Miss Ohio Matti-Lynn Chrisman.
Chrisman, a native of Cambridge, Ohio, brought tears to many eyes as she recounted her experience “in a dark time” in her life. She told about feeling intense anxiety and having bouts when she didn’t want to eat. Mental health and suicide prevention were her platform for the Miss Ohio Contest.
The audience was captivated with her words as she shared the story of an 8-year-old girl she met at a pancake breakfast this year. The child deals with so much anxiety that she can’t eat and she’s been bullied because her hands are always shaking.
“I showed her my shaking hands,” said Chrisman as she held out a trembling hand.
Chrisman said they talked and she reassured the child that anything is possible and she will be okay. She said that people don’t always understand the fight they have, and that makes it very hard to win.
As Miss Ohio, Chrisman has been participating in many United Way projects and events. She sees the “tremendous impact of United Way around the state and in Morrow County” where her aunt and uncle, Casey and Brandon Hayes, live.
Vanderkooi, who has coached cheerleading for 32 years, spoke about finding your “Go” or purpose in life. She added that we are all coaches and part of a team.
The “Fight” comes in when problems arise. Do you bail, or do you listen and find solutions?” Vanderkooi asked. She recommended that we prepare to win and when we get tired, we pull others in to get help and include our team.
“When we come together collectively, we build better people, the people build a better town, a better state and a better nation,” Vanderkooi concluded.
United Way Board President Ben Granger acknowledged 40 top donors who contributed from $500 to more than $5,000. The 2018-2019 campaign reached 87 percent — $112,000 — of the $130,000 goal.
Special recognition went to the Maryhaven team that had 100 percent participation in contributions. Deb Levering and Barb Byrd were recognized for their help with the Esther’s Dream project that gives gently used prom and homecoming dresses to high school girls in the county.
Bunker Hill Winery was the setting for the dinner. The picnic-style meal was catered by Culinary House Call of Marengo.