United Way of Metropolitan Dallas celebrated the generosity of Dallas Cowboys legend and community champion Troy Aikman at Klyde Warren Park on Saturday. Aikman has committed gifts totaling $1million to the Unite Forever Campaign. The Troy Aikman Foundation made the contribution to establish United Way’s first-ever donor advised fund, The Troy Aikman Fund in the United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas.
“Troy is one of the nation’s most respected figures in the business of sports and certainly one of Dallas’ most beloved citizens,” said Jennifer Sampson, CEO and President of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. “This unprecedented partnership is an outgrowth of his longtime involvement and service to United Way. Troy is actively committed to the causes he champions, and his catalytic gift will unite this community in creating secure futures for generations to come.”
An NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Emmy-nominated broadcaster, Aikman established The Troy Aikman Foundation for Children in 1992, touching thousands of young lives through services such as creating colorful recreation areas in children’s hospitals. Aikman’s interests called for dissolving his foundation and transitioning the funds to other philanthropic management. Establishing a donor advised fund through United Way will allow him to continue his historic work to improve futures for our community’s children, by improving health and wellness, education and opportunities for financial stability.
“I’ve been a believer in United Way since my playing days with the Dallas Cowboys, and over the years I’ve seen first-hand how United Way of Metropolitan Dallas works to change ‘the system’ for a stronger community,” said Aikman. “I’m proud of this partnership, and hope my commitment will be a catalyst for others to invest in brighter futures for the next generation. It’s important to me to inspire my daughters toward a legacy of giving back.”
Aikman’s gift makes him the newest member of the Caroline Rose Hunt Legacy Society – Million Dollar Circle. His gift to the Unite Forever Campaign follows a $5 million dollar gift announced in February by Diane and Hal Brierley, and a $5 million gift made by the 19 grandchildren of Caroline Rose Hunt in her honor in October of last year.
Led by co-chairs Ruth Sharp Altshuler, Ed Galante and Roger Staubach, the Unite Forever Campaign will ensure a more predictable, sustainable, and stable future for North Texas by ensuring operational and grant support for three critical areas: education, income and health. Launched in February 2015, the campaign offers the flexibility to fund new and emerging community-wide solutions. Generous donors have already committed more than $35 million toward the effort’s $100 million goal.
Thanks to corporate sponsors Texas Instruments, Cigna and Energy Future Holdings and its family of companies including Luminant and TXU Energy, United Way hosted Live! In the Park, an all-day health and wellness fair at Klyde Warren Park. That evening, United Way hosted a VIP reception known as “Gratitude presented by Brown-Forman” for its most generous supporters.
Rain did not dampen the spirits of the 150 supporters and their families who enjoyed the fun at the private gratitude reception. Executive Chef John Coleman of Savor saved the day by hosting the reception on the restaurant’s covered patio. United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Board Members Cecily Gooch and Deb Gibbins brought their families to enjoy the face painter, sketch artist and strolling magician. Board members Debra von Storch and Rick Bridwell offered friendly welcomes to guests as they arrived.
As supporters enjoyed sips and bites on the Savor patio, the Ray Johnston Band entertained them with a performance on the Pavilion stage. At 7p.m., KDFW Fox 4 anchor Clarice Tinsley made the official welcome and introduced Jennifer Sampson. Sampson welcomed Jason Downing, United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas Vice Chair, and Curt FitzGerald, United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas Board Chair, to make the big announcement about the Troy Aikman Fund joining forces with United Way. A video presentation featuring Roger Staubach, Charlotte Jones Anderson and Dr. Kenneth Cooper honored Aikman and his philanthropic leadership.
Greeted by cheers and applause from the crowd in front of a Unite Forever backdrop, Aikman shared heartfelt remarks about his commitment to make a lasting difference for Dallas, the city he and his daughters call home.
The evening concluded with a concert by The Voice #Team Blake winner and Dallas native Craig Wayne Boyd.