MT. VERNON — — United Way of South Central Illinois held its annual victory celebration Saturday evening, drawing a crowd of more than 200 people to the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
The event was designed to be a fun and festive way to celebrate the end of the United Way's 2013 fundraising campaign, while also honoring this year's donors.
Lynn Hutchison, community resource director for the United Way, said the celebration used to be a formal affair, but in recent years organizers have tried to make the gathering more enjoyable.
“We try to be playful with it,” Hutchison said. “We thought, what could be more fun than trying to give people a break from the weather.”
United Way officials have not yet announced the results of the 2013 campaign. However, Hutchison said the campaign is “on target.”
“Our goal was just to make an impact on the community and be able to support the agencies that do that work,” Hutchison said.
The theme of Saturday's celebration was “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” a reference to the music of Jimmy Buffet.
Most of those in attendance wore tropical clothing and live music was provided by the Jumbo Shrimp Band. For dinner that evening, there was a gourmet cheeseburger bar.
To kick things off, members of the United Way “Dream Team” led party-goers in a conga line to the cheeseburger bar. The Dream Team is made up of the 2013 Campaign Chairmen — Mike Beard, Norma Fairchild, Kelly Carrico and Brett Hall.
“We work so very hard to try to raise money for the United Way because we help so many great organizations,” Beard said. “So this is a good time to come together with those organizations.”
But there was a serious side to the evening as well. Among other highlights of Saturday's celebration, Ameren Illinois made a $10,000 donation to the United Way's campaign.