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Dave Olson, Published February 07 2012

United Way of Cass-Clay surpasses $5 million goal

FARGO – When the United Way of Cass-Clay announced Tuesday it exceeded its 2011 fundraising goal of $5 million, Emily Chisholm was there to help celebrate at an event at the Fargo Air Museum.

After all, the United Way and agencies it helps have been there for her son, Sawyer, who is 12 and deals with neurological issues ranging from autism to epilepsy.

Chisholm said Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization, one of 40 local nonprofits supported by the United Way, has supplied her family with items since they discovered the agency about four years ago.

“We initially went there for incontinent supplies,” Emily Chisholm said.

“Then, I realized there’s so much more to HERO than walkers and wheelchairs,” she said. “They had a huge amount of things for the special-needs population.”

About a month ago, HERO called to let Chisholm know it had a used jogging stroller she had been on a waiting list for.

After Chisholm got to the store, however, her attention was directed to several new strollers affordably priced at about $100, strollers that usually sell for around $2,000.

Chisholm bought one.

“It’s not like I just have $2,000 to go out there and buy a stroller for my son,” she said. “I was so appreciative.”

Making a difference is what the United Way is all about, said Sher Thomsen, the organization’s president.

“Our campaign goal is important, but the dollars raised are not as important as what we know will happen because of the campaign results,” she said.

Randy Johnson, chairman of the 2011 campaign, agreed.

“This celebration is not about a number, or surpassing a goal,” Johnson said.

“This celebration is about people,” he added. “It’s our community uniting and working together to accomplish something that none of us could accomplish on our own.”

The group is projecting a 2011 total of $5,010,429.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555