Well-known for bringing the ball into the end zone, Green Bay Packer Donald Driver created another win-win play Friday night.
This time the winner was the United Way of Waukesha County.
About 200 people attended the second annual Champions of Giving recognition and celebration. The event was sponsored by Jerry and Judie Couri of Couri Insurance in Waukesha and was held at the home of Jim Lindenberg, owner of the Milwaukee Wave, to acknowledge people who contributed $1,000 or more during the 2011 fundraising campaign.
Driver, a champion on the football field with the Packers and on the dance floor in Dancing with the Stars, was a fitting choice for the event, Jerry Couri said.
For Driver, however, the event was all about community and community support. That support has helped him become who he is, Driver said.
“Wisconsin has been tremendous to me. I could not do all the things I do … without the love and support you all have given me. Throughout my life, throughout my career, it’s been truly a blessing,” he said.
Driver said that for him, helping United Way was an easy decision because of its support of the community. He wants to be able to help provide that support for others.
“That’s why we’re all here tonight: to make sure we continue the love and support in the community because I couldn’t be the person I am today without the community,” he said.
Waukesha County Board Chairman Paul Decker was the master of ceremony for the auction, entertaining the crowd in addition to tracking bids on auction items.
The auction earned an estimated $21,000 for the United Way.
The most competitive bidding war was over a picture of Driver during his time on Dancing with the Stars. That item went for more than $5,000, with half of that amount going to Driver’s charity, the Donald Driver Foundation.
In addition to the auction items, some bid winners also received a dance, hug or picture with Driver. Driver’s recent success on Dancing with the Stars clearly added to his popularity among women attendees.
Keeping the focus on the need for United Way programs in Waukesha County was a short talk from a mother who received help from United Way’s financial stability initiative.
The woman shared how she has learned to better manage money with the help of counseling from United Way.
Last year, more than 72,000 people in the community needed to reach out to a United Way service for help.