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United Way of Deschutes County wraps up successful 2019


BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- For United Way of Deschutes County, 2019 was a big year. The local nonprofit accomplished a couple of notable firsts, as well as continued its ongoing fight for the health, education, financial stability and resilience of every person in our Central Oregon community.

On Sept. 7, UWDC hosted the inaugural Central Oregon OVER THE EDGE – a fundraiser in which community members rappelled off the roof of downtown Bend’s Oxford Hotel to raise funds for our community.  During the event, 30 individuals scaled the seven stories and 70 feet down the side of Central Oregon’s tallest building while Ground Party festivities took place in the streets below.

Those who rappelled included NewsChannel 21’s Bob Shaw and Mike Allen, KQAK’s Dave Clemens and Austin Reed, and UWDC’s very own Executive Director, Ken Wilhelm. The event raised approximately $40,000 to help our community’s most vulnerable.

Two days before OVER THE EDGE, UWDC recognized a 50-year United Way volunteer – John Salzer of Sunriver – with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a surprise party held at the Oxford Hotel and attended by his family, friends, and community members. 

Mr. Salzer has dedicated his life to giving back. For UWDC, he has served on the Board of Directors, multiple Committees, as Campaign Chair, and currently leads the nonprofit’s Sunriver Community fundraising campaign. Originally from Michigan, Mr. Salzer now spends the majority of his volunteer time and energy in southern Deschutes County.

“I have been impressed with John’s philosophy of ‘learn, earn, and return’ ever since I met him,” says Diana Fischetti, UWDC director of development and marketing. “John has a saying that he spent the beginning of his life learning, the next part of his life earning, and now is dedicated to returning – giving back. I just love that.”

Also on September 5th, UWDC hosted its Campaign Kickoff Celebration at the Oxford Hotel. At this public event, Jacob Fain, this year’s Campaign Chair, announced the organization’s campaign goal of $1.2 million. Mr. Fain, who is a Family Wealth Advisor and Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, has served on UWDC’s Board of Directors for 5 years and is a former Board President.

At the Kickoff Celebration, UWDC officially launched its annual community fundraising campaign to raise funds used to address the most pertinent, unmet needs of individuals and families in our community. The campaign includes not only corporate leaders, but also employees from businesses and nonprofits throughout our region, as well as individual community members.

United Way of Deschutes County is focused on fixing imbalances for today’s kids so that when they are tomorrow’s adults, they can thrive. Together with its 26 nonprofit partners, 100 corporate partners, and nearly 2,500 donors, UWDC helps 27% of Central Oregonians.

UWDC is a local fundraiser and a local funder. The money they raise here, stays right here and serves this community. The community fundraising campaign is still underway and striving to reach that $1.2 million goal! To learn more about how to be involved or to donate, call 541.389.6507 or visit

United Way of Deschutes County is a 21 Cares for Kids partner

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