Celebrating 10 Years of UNITED Tribute by Surpassing $1M

Dancing with Our Stars contestants gather on dance floor for group photo

United Way of Denton County hosts reduced-capacity gala raising over $230,000 to bring event ten-year total past $1 million; Denton County philanthropists Michelle and Brian Cree honored with Humanitarian Award; community dancing duos vie for Mirror Ball Trophy


Friends and supporters of United Way of Denton County gathered in socially distanced fashion at the grand ballroom at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center for the 10th annual UNITED Tribute Gala on Saturday, January 15. Despite limiting ticket sales to 70% capacity, the 10th annual UNITED Tribute gala raised over $230,000 to reach an impressive 10-year milestone surpassing $1 million dollars raised for United Way of Denton County to improve and transform lives across Denton County.

The celebration recognized several companies, municipalities, and individuals for their dedication to building a stronger Denton County during another difficult year in 2021, and two community dancers were crowned Champions of “Dancing with Our Stars.”

The Once-Upon-A-Time-themed event had a magical feel as awards were given amidst an electric dance competition by a cast of 22 community volunteer dancers.

Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell presented the most prestigious award of the night to Highland Village couple Michelle & Brian Cree who were honored as the 2021 Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian Awardees for their tireless work to build a stronger Denton County.

“This is truly humbling,” said Brian Cree. “What I want for United Way and Denton County nonprofits is the same thing I want for my businesses: greater revenue (donations), lower expenses, and to mitigate risk.”

Other awardees of the night included: Allison Engineering Group – Leadership Giving Award; Morrison Milling – Rise UNITED Award | Midsize Company; Sawko & Burroughs, PC – Rise UNITED Award | Small Company; City of Carrollton – Trailblazer Award; First State Bank – 99% Award; and finally, Peterbilt Motors Company - Decades Award with General Manager Jason Skoog presenting United Way of Denton County CEO Gary Henderson with a ceremonial check for $455,363 raised during their United Way Employee Giving Campaign.

“As amazing as Peterbilt’s support is each year, they can’t do it alone,” said Henderson. “If you are part of the United Way fabric, think of your own stories. If you are not part of the United Way family, we need your help. Join Us.”

The UNITED Tribute pre-show kicked off with “Live from the Blue Carpet” hosted by Zach Glenn and previous Mirror Ball Champion Jordan McDowell. Broadcast on Facebook LIVE and on the big screens in the Embassy Suites ballroom, “Live!” set the tone for the event with interviews on the blue carpet as awardees, sponsors and guests arrived.

The featured entertainment of the evening was the crowd-favorite “Dancing with Our Stars” showcasing eleven couples from across Denton County who volunteered countless hours since October toWinners learn a group and solo dance under the direction of Gladys Keeton, Professor Emeritus of Dance at Texas Woman’s University. Earning the Judges’ Choice Award for technical scores were Suzanne & Brian Danhoff, representing Denton Community Council of PTAs and Peterbilt. Votes from the audience – both at home and in the ballroom – crowned Kenya Lockett of Denton ISD and Joe Perez of the City of The Colony as Dancing Champions, taking home the coveted Mirror Ball Trophies.

The 10th annual UNITED Tribute generated over $230,000 for United Way of Denton County thanks to the dedication of event Co-Chairs Monica Glenn and Pat Sherman, and the Tribute Committee.