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Rick Burgess, left, United Way campaign co-chair, Brandon Fortenberry, director of Cornell Catering, and Pat Wynn, United Way campaign co-chair, at the inaugural Winter Fest, Dec. 7 in Willard Straight Hall.

United Way campaign ramps up activities to garner support

Campaign co-chairs Pat Wynn and Rick Burgess have proven that they will go to great lengths to rev up enthusiasm for Cornell’s support of the United Way.

Wynn, executive director for campus life enterprise services, entered her tofu-based recipe in a fundraising chili contest Nov. 29. A week later, she and Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services, got into the spirit of the season by donning snowman costumes to sing “Frosty the Snowman” – with United Way-themed lyrics – at the inaugural Winter Fest, Dec. 7 in Willard Straight Hall.

The Chili Cook-off, Dessert Bake-off and Vendor Fair, held by Facilities and Campus Services in the Humphries Service Building, raised more than $1,000 for the Cornell United Way campaign. Wynn’s chili took first place, with Pat Okenfels tying for second with Paula and Dale Slocum, and Cole Tucker placing third.

In the dessert bake-off, Emily Sorber’s caramel apple trifle took the top spot, with Gail Straight’s raspberry lime bar placing second and Donna Sutliff’s cherry cheesecake brownies placing third.

James Brown, left, president of the United Way of Tompkins County, and Andy Noel, Meakem*Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education, enjoy the party.

The following evening, Nov. 30, about $700 was raised at the women’s ice hockey game through a dollar-per-attendee donation by the William Henry Inn.

But raising the bar for all Cornell United Way campaign celebrations was Winter Fest, where more than 80 faculty, staff and students attended two hours of festivities.

Apia Awa of Cornell Dining served as DJ, and Brandon Fortenberry, director of Cornell Catering, was master of ceremonies. Participants enjoyed food and beverages provided by Cornell Catering, a performance by student a cappella group the Chordials, musical performances by Rob Ervin of the Cornell Store and Meng-Wei Hsu of Cornell Dining, and a stand-up comedy routine by local performing artist Keith Hanon, in addition to the seasonal singing of Wynn and Burgess.

Bringing home the message that every gift to the United Way makes a real difference in individual lives in Tompkins and surrounding counties were unit director volunteers. They read narratives by individuals who’ve benefited from agencies supported by the United Way of Tompkins County (UWTC).

James Brown, president of UWTC, thanked Cornell for helping make Ithaca and Tompkins County “a more exceptional place to live and serve.”

Though it has raised more than $419,000, the Cornell United Way campaign is still far from its goal of $750,000. The formal campaign ends Dec. 31, but gifts of any amount are welcome any time. The President’s Leadership Association for those pledging $1,000 or more will celebrate Feb. 6.

Consider giving a gift to the Cornell United Way campaign in honor or in memory of someone, or designate a specific agency or county United Way of your choosing. 


Media Contact

Gillian Smith