The United Way of Central Oklahoma announced a $22 million goal for 2012 Friday at its annual Pancake Breakfast at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
The breakfast, which is always a sign of fall's arrival, is held each September to kick off the United Way of Central Oklahoma's Campaign with the announcement of the fundraising goal.
A line of representatives from the 62 United Way of Central Oklahoma Partner Agencies greeted volunteers and United Way staffers with cheers, applause and “thank yous” as they walked through the receiving line to the event.
“They're giving of themselves,” said Gwen Williams, who was in the receiving line, representing Oklahoma Foundation for the Disabled. “You know that they care about what goes on in our agencies and what we're all about.”
Inside the ballpark, celebrity chefs worked the griddles, flipping hotcakes to serve the hundreds of hungry Oklahomans attending the breakfast. Among the celebrity chefs were former Oklahoma first lady Kim Henry, former Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty and state Sen. David Holt.
The event got started with a presentation, emceed by 2012 Campaign Chairman Bryan Gonterman, president of AT&T Oklahoma.
“We all understand just how important the United Way is,” Gonterman said. “We also understand what a great state and great city we live in. And it's because of all of us here, reaching out and helping one another. We know what it means to lend a helping hand and that's exactly what the United Way is all about.”
Gonterman introduced Dave Morris, video director of NewsOK.com, who was the host of a Celebrity Pancake Flipping Contest. Dave Rhea of the Journal Record won the contest, beating out Flint executive chef Andrew Black.
Following the contest, Lindy Ritz, 2012 Loaned Executive chairman and director of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, introduced and thanked the 26 executives who are on loan for 12 weeks from companies that support United Way of Central Oklahoma.
“When you think about Loaned Executives, you realize that they are the core of the campaign,” said Ritz, who was dressed as a Norman High School cheerleader. “Because their employers pay their salaries for the entire 12 weeks, it really allows us to lower overhead and focus attention on the campaign.”