The Douglas County United Way drive kicked off Saturday night with a variety show and recognition of businesses helping to set the pace for this year's million-dollar campaign.
The fund drive's goal is to raise $1,007,500 for the county's 28 United Way-supported agencies. The drive will end Nov. 22.
Between 250 and 300 people attended the Kaw Valley Variety show, which was held at Liberty Hall, 642 Mass. The show consisted of 13 acts of music, singing, skits and comedy.
The culmination of the two-hour show was the announcment by Marilyn Bittenbender, 1991-1992 United Way drive chairman, of the grand totals for the 15 local "Pacesetters," which are companies asked to hold early fund drives among their employees.
The companies and their employees helped set the pace for the drive by donating a total of $148,939. All campaign divisions through Friday had donated $186,323, which is 18.5 percent of the $1,007,550 goal.
JUDY WRIGHT, development director at Kansas University's Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, directed the variety show.
"It's been so much fun to work with the different groups," Wright said during a break in the show. She said although they held just two rehearsals, it was fun to get people from around the community to put together a show.
"It's been fun and exciting to see all of these people together and see what they can do," she said. "We've had everything from comedians to a skit by 20 Girl Scouts."
Among the highlights of the evening was a musical rap number, "Earth Allies," featuring three Lecompton youths, Dustin Cox, Aaron Paul and Gary Freeman, who danced and sang a Vanilla Ice-style rap, getting whoops and cheers from the gathering.
Another highlight was "We are the World (Company)," a skit featuring about a dozen impersonators of celebrities, including Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Cher, Hulk Hogan, Madonna, Minnie Pearl, Elton John, Elvis Presley, George Bush and the actor who portrays car salesman Sonny Hill in regional TV ads.
COSTUMED for their roles, the impersonators, all employees of The World Co., each came to the microphone to deliver one-liners before singing their company version of "We Are the World."
Other acts at the show included performances of "Lean on Me" by Brianna, Jasmine and Justin Moten for the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, and "The Trials and Tribulations of the Tator Girls," featuring Helen Krische-Dee and Kimberly Lewis, of Girl Scout Troop No. 713.
The following is a list of the Pacesetter company donations to the United Way: Lawrence Public Schools, $33,217; Lawrence Memorial Hospital, $23,319; Quaker Oats Co., $18,958; The World Co., $18,660; INTERx Research Corp., $16,542; KPL Gas Service, $9,500; Capitol Federal Savings & Loan, $6,548; Kansas Public Service, $5,021; Wal-Mart, $5,000 (estimate); PKG Design Group/Landplan Engineering, $4,166; Baker University, $2,576; Gene Fritzel Construction, $2,413; Connecting Point, $1,102; Gill Agency, $1,088; and Baldwin Public Schools, $829.