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United Way tops fundraising goal

Mitchell United Way Campaign Chairman Pat Essig, left, and United Way Board President Ryan Huber unroll a $452,589 check during a Friday awards and recognition luncheon at the Highland Conference Center in Mitchell. The amount exceeds the previous year's $440,000 target goal by $12,589, making it the 32nd year the organization has met or exceeded its fundraising goals. (Ross Dolan/Republic)

Mitchell United Way Campaign Chairman Pat Essig wiped his brow in mock relief Friday.

Essig did his little performance as he and United Way President Ryan Huber unrolled a giant $452,589 check at a United Way luncheon at Mitchell's Highland Conference Center. The check represented an amount $12,589 greater than the 2012-2013 campaign goal of $440,000.

Both Huber and Essig said later that their anxiety was real.

"It's a remarkable figure," Essig said. "Truly, I did not know the amount until today when we unrolled the banner."

The final fund-raising numbers had been kept under tight wraps by Mitchell United Way Executive Director Dave Stevens.

"But we've had 31 straight years (of meeting or exceeding our goal) so why not 32?" said Essig, his confidence restored. "With all the effort that's gone into this campaign, it's no surprise we made it once again." Essig, president of Wells Fargo Bank in Mitchell, served as vice president of the Mitchell United Way board of directors this year.

He will serve as board president in 2013-14. Essig received a United Way Volunteer Service Award for his efforts and Huber was presented with a United Way Merit award. Essig said awards should be given to those local service agencies funded by United Way that manage to provide services for so many, with so little.

Huber, branch manager of BankWest in Mitchell, said reaching the goal is "a true testament to the Mitchell community; a testament to our board; a testament to the hard work of the member agencies that solicit the businesses in town, and quite frankly, a testament to the business owners and their employees."

The event included this year's "Give a Little Bit" campaign video, which highlighted several programs funded by United Way. Photographs were also shown from the "Day of Caring," during which nearly 200 volunteers worked on two dozen service projects throughout Mitchell.