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Wednesday, 09 December 2015 16:11

Sheldon Kennedy to speak at the Swift Current United Way breakfast

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The Innovation Credit Union presented a cheque of $5,000 to the United Way Active Play program on Dec. 2. From left, Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz receives the cheque from Innovation Credit Union Associate Vic President of Marketing and Strategic Intelligence Darla Lindbjerg. The Innovation Credit Union is a funding partner of the United Way Active Play program in Swift Current and contributes $5,000 while the remaining $5,000 is from United Way generated funds. The United Way Active Play program is a free after-school program at elementary schools in Swift Current that encourages physical activity and nutritious eating choices for children. The Innovation Credit Union presented a cheque of $5,000 to the United Way Active Play program on Dec. 2. From left, Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz receives the cheque from Innovation Credit Union Associate Vic President of Marketing and Strategic Intelligence Darla Lindbjerg. The Innovation Credit Union is a funding partner of the United Way Active Play program in Swift Current and contributes $5,000 while the remaining $5,000 is from United Way generated funds. The United Way Active Play program is a free after-school program at elementary schools in Swift Current that encourages physical activity and nutritious eating choices for children.

Former NHL and Swift Current Broncos player Sheldon Kennedy, who has become a prominent advocate for child abuse prevention and education, will be the keynote speaker at the Swift Current United Way’s annual campaign kickoff breakfast.


The event to launch the United Way’s 2016 fundraising campaign takes place on Jan. 8 at the Living Sky Casino Sky Centre.
Swift Current United Way ExecutiveDirector Stacey Schwartz is excited to have Kennedy as keynote speaker at the event

“When we’re looking at speakers, we want somebody that can relate to, that can speak to the work the United Way is doing and have that common connection,” she said.
The world premiere of a new documentary about Kennedy’s life, titled Swift Current, took place at the Rendezvous with Madness film festival in Toronto Nov. 6. It is bringing renewed attention to his struggles to deal with the abuse by Broncos coach Graham James and how Kennedy became a spokesperson for others who have been sexually-abused.
Schwartz said Kennedy’s life story is very appropriate to the kickoff breakfast’s theme, ‘Empower Leaders’.
“The timing just couldn’t have worked out any better with the documentary coming out, which really elevated the work that Sheldon has done and then too our theme is ‘Empower Leaders’,” she mentioned. “We really want to focus on we’re not raising money for just programs, we’re raising money to give individuals in our community a second chance to make change in their community.”
The breakfast will seat 240 people, but more than two thirds of the tickets have already been sold. She expected there would be significant interest from people who want to hear Kennedy speak.
“If they’re coming just to hear Sheldon, that’s awesome because that’s an opportunity for us to make our community aware of the work the United Way does while they’re there listening to Sheldon,” she said. “We have a mix of businesses and individuals who come most years and I’ve seen some new names come up on our list that have been buying tickets. Sheldon is a big draw to why people would want to come to the kickoff breakfast.”
She is therefore advising anyone interested in attending the breakfast to obtain their tickets soon. Doors will open at 7 a.m. and there will be a brief presentation about the activities of the United Way and the fundraising goal for 2016 before Kennedy’s address.
In previous years the annual campaign kickoff breakfast took place in September, which left the Swift Current United Way with only a few months to raise funds that benefit a variety of programs and services provided by 12 non-profit agencies in the community.
“For us it just works better, it makes more sense,” she said about starting the campaign already in January. “It gives us more time to get the message out to the community of the need for the funds and why we’re raising money.”
In recent years the annual campaign goal has been $110,000 and that will again be the goal for 2016.
“We’ve never actually met our goal,” she said. “So we’re going to keep it, but for 2016 it’s absolutely crucial that we meet our goal.”
The funding requests from the non-profit agencies always exceed the amount raised every year, but the United Way has been able to use the bequest from the estate of John “Jack” Pratt to add money to the funds raised by each campaign.
“That money was always around to help top up when we didn’t make our goal,” she said. “We are running out of that money. … That’s why 2016 is a crucial year for United Way, because we don’t have that to piggy back off any more. So basically it is whatever we raise.”
It will therefore be more practical to have the campaign kickoff at the start of the year to highlight the successes of the previous year and to inform the community of the new campaign goal.
“We want to get people in the mindset that it’s year round that we’re raising money for this and that’s where we’re hoping to see the change come,” she said. “So after the kickoff we’re going to be sending out letters in the mail with a slip if you want to donate and we’ll again just highlight for those that can’t come to the kickoff this is what we’re raising money for, this is our focus for 2016, and hoping that people will respond to that because we’ll send that out to the whole community.”
Early bird ticket prices until Dec. 18 are $40 per individual or $375 for a table of 10. Thereafter the tickets will be $50 per individual and $475 for a table of 10. To get tickets, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to the event page for the 2016 Swift Current United Way kickoff breakfast on www.eventbrite.ca.

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