Spirited Leader Advances United Way to New Heights

Back L to R: Steve Sanderson and Tom Donahue Front L to R: Charlie Babb, Larry Little and Mercury Morris

Back L to R: Steve Sanderson and Tom Donahue
Front L to R: Charlie Babb, Larry Little and Mercury Morris

Tom Donahue Brings His Innovation to the United Way and the Walk for the Way

In the early 2000s, Tom Donahue received a call from a colleague asking if he could help find celebrity guests for an upcoming charity event for the United Way of Collier County. Working within a very tight deadline, Donahue scrambled to help. He reached out to Jane Morrall, wife of 1972 Miami Dolphins backup quarterback Earl Morrall, and landed members of the NFL’s only perfect season team for the event.

Members of that notable team, including Larry Little, Mercury Morris, Charlie Babb, and Earl Morrall himself, attended the highly successful event. And thanks to Tom Donahue, the relationship between United Way of Collier County and the Miami Dolphins began.

After such a grand entrance into the United Way family, it’s no surprise that Donahue, who is no stranger to leadership positions, now serves as a United Way board member and is this year’s Campaign Chair. He has been a member of the Make-A-Wish President’s Council and, as a U.S. military veteran, has served as a cabinet member for the Hodges University American Military Veterans Education Fund. He is also General Manager of Shula’s Steak House and is a valued participant in the annual  Earl Morrall Celebrity Golf Tournament.

Manager, leader, veteran, giver, and father: Donahue fills all of these roles. In his role as Campaign Chair, he is already making a difference in advancing the common good and is making a great impact on the preparations for the 9th Annual Walk for the Way. Walk for the Way is the kickoff event for the United Way’s Community Campaign. It is Collier County’s largest walk, and it attracts nearly 3,000 participants each year.

United Way LogoAccording to Donahue, “There’s something for everyone at this event. The 2.5 mile walk is fun for the whole family, and the event will feature live entertainment, local celebrities, mascots, and healthy food from Publix. And for the first time, this year’s event will include a 5K run.”

The Walk will also feature a community resource fair, with representatives from United Way’s partner agencies – recipients of funding from the United Way – available to provide information about their programs. And yes, just like that first year, Miami Dolphins alumni and cheerleaders will be present.

Donahue added, “We encourage everyone to participate, either individually or as part of a team. We suggest a donation of $10 for each family that participates, of Collier County to New Heights Spirited Leader Advances United Way Tom Donahue Brings His Innovation to the United Way and the Walk for the Way but individuals can decide for themselves how much to contribute.

Teams will receive awards for raising the most money, having the largest number of walkers, and so on. This is more than just a walk – it’s a morning full of fun, and every registered participant will receive a one day pass to Sun-N-Fun Lagoon!”

Proceeds from the event benefit United Way of Collier County and its 31 local partner agencies, who together provide services to more than 100,000 Collier County residents each year. Steve Sanderson, United Way of Collier County’s President and CEO, commented that “We are extremely fortunate to have Tom’s leadership as we help those in need in Collier County. We value his dedication as a board member, Campaign Chair, and leader in this year’s Walk for the Way. He stands out as an extraordinary member of the Collier County community.”

The Walk will take place at North Collier Regional Park on Saturday, September 27th, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and the walk starting at 9 a.m. For online registration and more information, visit www.uwcollier.org. Organizations can participate in the Walk for the Way by putting together a team to walk or by sponsoring the event at any of several levels, ranging from Presenting Sponsor for a donation of $2500 to Sign Sponsor for a donation of $250. More information is available on the United Way of Collier County website.

Current sponsors include Publix Super Markets; Arthrex; Coleman, Yovanovich & Koester; Bokamper’s; Lee County Electric Cooperative; Key Private Bank; Bond Schoeneck & King; Conditioned Air; First Integrity Bank (Formerly First National Bank of the Gulf Coast); Superior Stone Distributors; Lely Palms Retirement Community; and Rogers, Wood, Hill, Starman & Gustason.

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