12/05/08 — It's not over until the campaign chair drums

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It's not over until the campaign chair drums

By Catharin Shepard and Renee Carey
Published in News on December 5, 2008 1:46 PM

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United Way of Wayne County 2008 Campaign Chairman David Perry pounds out the last few bars of the song "Wipe Out" during the Ride the Wave campaign event Thursday at the Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership.

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Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep owner Hal Howard, left, and David Perry raise their arms up in celebration after Donna Cook's key unlocked the door to a brand new PT Cruiser.

United Way of Wayne County's 2008 campaign chairman David Perry kept his promise to the community Thursday -- and Donna Cook of Park Designs took home a brand new car.

After announcing that Wayne County businesses and individuals had donated $1,329,657 or 94 percent of the $1.42 million campaign goal, he took to the drums and played "Wipe Out" for the more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the end of the 2008 effort.

Thursday was also the lucky day for one of the 21 people who drew keys for a chance to win a 2008 PT Cruiser, sponsored by Hal Howard and Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep, as part of the Fair Share Challenge.

But before he took his seat at the drums, Perry thanked the volunteers, loan executives and others who have worked so hard over the past months to get the funds necessary to fund the services provided by the United Way's partner agencies.

His time at the helm, while stressful, he said, was very rewarding.

"When I look back, this is probably one of the best things I have ever done," Perry said. "The people I have met and the relationships I have formed -- it is something that I think everyone should do."

And although the official end of the 2008 campaign was Thursday, Perry said he and his wife, Bethany, his co-chairman, are not finished pushing to make up the remaining $90,000 that will be required to complete the 100 percent goal and to affect the lives of the remaining 1,807 county residents who will need the services of United Way partner agencies in 2009.

"In this economy, this is something to be very proud of," he said of the $1.3 million campaign total. "But we are not finished. We will continue to work on it through the month of December, and if we don't make it then, we are going to continue through January."

Perry said he has confidence Wayne County will do what needs to be done to meet the goal.

"I feel comfortable we are going to reach it," he said. "We are not going to give up."

And then it was back to the drums.

Accompanied by Vernon Felts, Steve Helderman and Joe Huffman on guitar and Jeff Neiman on bass, Perry slammed out the classic song by The Surfaris -- ending with tossed drumsticks and a quick swipe of his brow as onlookers danced and cheered.

And then it was Bethany's turn -- clad in her grass skirt and lei, she invited the 21 lucky Fair Share challenge finalists to draw their keys and take their chance at unlocking the door.

And after 14 unsuccessful turns of the key, Donna Cook headed up for her chance.

The silver angel pin on Mrs. Cook's shoulder clashed with the Hawaiian decor at the party, but it took on a special meaning as the key turned, the car's door opened and the alarm blared.

"I can't believe it. I've never won anything in my life. I guess it's my good luck charm. I didn't know it until tonight," said Mrs. Cook, as onlookers applauded and offered their congratulations.

Mrs. Cook donated her Fair Share to the United Way for each of the seven years she has worked for Park Designs.

"I donate every year. I think it's wonderful. It helps so many different kinds of people," she said.

Neither Mrs. Cook nor her husband Carl Cook thought her key would be the one to open the black PT Cruiser's door.

"I was just floored. I sat there staring in disbelief," said Cook. "We don't consider ourselves lucky."

The Goldsboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership partnered with the community to support the United Way as part of their company mandate to give back to others, said owner Hal Howard.

"What better way to thank someone for giving their fair share?" he said.

Howard was pleased with this year's fundraising results, which came close to meeting the goal despite a struggling economy.

"Every year it seems like we outdo ourselves," he said.