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United Way Estevan surpasses its goal during its annual Telethon; raises more than $359,000

United Way Estevan has raised more than $10 million in its history

ESTEVAN - It was a milestone year for the United Way Estevan’s Telethon, and the community showed its generosity for the fundraiser once again.

The organization's 45th annual Telethon, held Friday and Saturday at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch, went off the air at 5 p.m. Saturday with a total of $359,347 in pledges, surpassing the goal of $345,000.  

The telethon reached its goal at 4:02 p.m. Saturday afternoon, thanks to a donation from Foord Trucking and Outlaw Oilfield. 

Money raised during the telethon will help support the United Way's six community projects and 13 member agencies.  

“We put a high goal on it, and challenged the community, and we’re just under $360,000,” said United Way Estevan president Danny Ewen moments after the Telethon. “Estevan … answered the bell with flying colours. We had some record-breaking numbers in a lot of our usual areas.” 

The telethon went on air at 8 a.m. Friday morning. There was entertainment throughout the 33 hours, with people of all ages lending their talents to support the fundraiser. Singers, dancers and instrumentalists performed individually, in duets or in groups.

For the second straight year, there was a mixture of live and pre-recorded entertainment.

New for this year was a cooking show Friday evening, with Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS) cooking instructor Curtis Hack facing United Way Estevan board member Patrick Fisher in a friendly competition. 

Students from the ECS Student Representative Council held their annual ECS Takeover during the overnight hours, serving as hosts, entertainers and behind the scenes volunteers. 

The entertainment continued throughout the day Saturday, with local trio The Way serving as the closing act. 

“Our entertainment was awesome. Hats off to our entertainment committee and our board members for making that possible.”  

Many people served as volunteers throughout the 33 hours.  

The telethon was sitting at around $86,000 at the end of the day Friday, and donations started to pick up on Saturday. 

A couple of large donations brought the United Way close to its goal. One was from the United Mine Workers of America Local 7606, with matching support from Westmoreland Mining LLC, which amounted to more than $78,000. The other was from the employees of SaskPower, with matching support from the Crown corporation, which proved to be worth $101,000.  

Ewen said he wasn’t nervous when the United Way was about $2,400 short of its goal with about 90 minutes remaining. 

“We were so close to our goal after the mines came in, that we knew we would get there. That is thanks to those extra donations that have come in. The work of our board. Our bid items were significantly higher than ever before, and everybody gave it a little extra this year.”  

There was also a $25,000 donation from former Estevan resident Jeff Sandquist, who now resides in the Seattle area; a $20,000 donation from Whitecap Resources; and a donation from Kingston Midstream that exceeded $20,000. Many contributions from individuals, businesses and organizations occurred throughout the 33 hours.  

Shortly after the Telethon reached its goal, Ewen called Dan Clement, the president and CEO of United Way Canada, to inform him about the local success. Clement offered his congratulations to the local board and the community on eclipsing the goal.

“The last 18 months, living through a pandemic, it has really shown us how important those member agencies and the essential community services we all rely on are, and I think the funds raised in Estevan, through your donors, your volunteers, your corporate partners and regular partners, I know it’s going to be put to really good use, helping people through the pandemic, with family development and supportive communities.” 

Clement also paid tribute to the United Way’s volunteer board and the work they put on to make the telethon possible.  

“I always look forward to this day, because we get to tell the rest of the United Ways across Canada about the great achievement in Estevan,” said Clement.  

Spectators could drop by the Royal Canadian Legion's Estevan branch to watch the fundraiser, a change from last year.   

“That’s what helps the energy level of the whole telethon weekend. We noticed it last year with all the restrictions and the limited crowd. It was still an incredibly successful telethon and fundraiser, but we missed that atmosphere that makes this weekend so special.”  

There were also 134 hand-crafted items available at the bid table, which raised $11,812. Both figures were records. For the second straight year, people could start bidding on the merchandise a week before the telethon. 

“That’s a community effort,” said Ewen. “People donating, people buying, and the work of our committee to organize it all.”  

Rose Brisbois won a raffle for a quilt donated by the Hearts and Hands Quilting Guild.  

The entire telethon aired live on Access Now. For the second straight year, the Access truck was in Estevan for the telethon, enhancing the quality of the broadcast.  

During this year's Telethon, the United Way Estevan reached a major milestone, as it has raised more than $10 million since its inception 53 years ago. The United Way was around for several years before the first telethon in 1977.  

The donation from the mines and its employees pushed the United Way beyond the $10 million figure.  

“What that tells me is the United Way has always been an important part in the community of Estevan. It’s not just a recent thing. For 53 years, the United Way Estevan has been able to raise money to help out others in the community. For the last 45 years, it has primarily been done during our telethon,” said Ewen.  

Ewen praised the community for its support, not just during this year's Telethon, but throughout the United Way's history. 

He also noted the United Way will continue to accept donations for those who didn’t make a pledge during or before the telethon, and the more they get, the more they can give back to member agencies and the community projects. The allocations committee will meet again, and give out some more money.  

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