Community raises more than $3 million for United Way


For the first time in its history, United Way of Portage County raised more than $3 million during its annual campaign. United Way of Portage County Executive Director Sue Wilcox, along with the Blenker family of Amherst, announced at the organization’s Victory Celebration on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at SentryWorld that the community’s efforts during the campaign raised $3,048,991 in 2017.

The amount surpasses this year’s goal of $2.85 million, and tops last year’s announced amount of $2,932,411. “Thank you, Portage County, for taking us into new territory with a really incredible campaign and for your trust in United Way programs and initiatives that support our community’s most vulnerable populations,” said Wilcox.

This year’s Campaign Drive Chairs – the Blenker family, owners and operators of Blenker Companies in Amherst – were on hand at the Victory Celebration to talk about their experiences and thank all who helped. “I learned what an inspired community we live in,” said Jason Blenker. “There are a lot of passionate people who believe in paying it forward.”

Wilcox praised the Blenker family’s leadership, as well as the work of United Way programming. “United Way funding helps support more than 30 programs and initiatives focused on education, health, income, and community basics,” she said. “All of these programs are focused on building a better community. From programs that help keep our seniors in their homes and independent, to programs that help struggling families become self-sufficient, to ones that help mentor kids in need of direction, the Blenker family’s leadership and the generosity of the community will continue to give back to these programs for generations.”

In addition to the campaign total reveal, the Victory Celebration also served up a gameshow style conclusion to the United Way - TRAVEL UNITED Sweepstakes. A 2018 Ford F-150 XL Super Cab 4x4 worth $38,000 donated by Scaffidi Motors was awarded to Carol Rucinski, Town of Hull, during a Wheel of Fortune type game where event emcee Steve Martin had three finalists spin a wheel to determine the prizewinners. Rucinski received automatic entries into the sweepstakes by giving through United Way’s direct mail campaign.

The other two finalists were Ahila Maheswarann, who won a Virtual Travel Package containing a big screen TV, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation VR donated by Skyward, Inc., and Alyssa Gralla, who won a $1,000 airline gift certificate and a $500 Visa card donated by Simplicity Credit Union and Old National Bank.
Representatives from communities throughout Portage County helped reveal this year’s campaign total during the Victory Celebration. Steve Martin suggested that allowing all the communities to participate in the reveal was “a great reminder that every one of us has a role in taking care of our friends and neighbors in need.”

United Way of Portage County’s mission is to bring people and resources together to achieve measurable results that improve people’s lives and strengthen the community. It does so by focusing on the building blocks for a better life – education, income, health, and community basics. To learn more, visit