Heartland United Way kicks off annual campaign

Heartland United Way kicks off annual campaign at Riverside Lodge in Grand Island.
Heartland United Way kicks off annual campaign at Riverside Lodge in Grand Island.(Diamond Nunnally (KSNB))
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Heartland United Way kicked off its annual campaign which brings in thousands of dollars for local nonprofits each year. On Thursday, they hosted a luncheon at Riverside Lodge in Grand Island and invited speaker, Brendan McDonough to say a few words.

McDonough is the lone survivor of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy. He had been a firefighter for about two years before everyone of his crew members were killed during a dangerous wildfire.

The theme this year is “If there’s a you, there’s a way.” Executive Director Karen Rathke said Mcdonough is the perfect person to encourage people to give back with his story.

“We just really want to recognize everybody’s efforts for doing so much to help people and meet the need in the communities and just give them that inspiration to keep going and giving hope because that’s the greatest gift we can give.”

McDonough went through depression after the tragedy and to ease his pain turned to drugs and alcohol, and it wasn’t until he decided to reach out and get help, when things started to turn around.

“After the tragedy United Way came in, American Red Cross, different local nonprofits, national nonprofits to help the families and to help myself heal and come out of an unfathomable loss, but it was through community that I was able to find healing and find a new sense of purpose in life,” McDonough said.

During his speech, McDonough’s goal was to express how important nonprofits are and also encourage people to donate to the campaign.

To donate, visit the Heartland United Way’s website. Their goal is to raise $1.5 million for the 17 community partners in Hall Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick counties.

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