A “Tribute” to 70 Years for United Way of Denton County

United Way of Denton County hosts 12th annual gala raising over $230,000 and celebrating 70 years of impacting lives; Denton County local John Baines honored with Humanitarian Award; Mirror Ball Trophy Champions crowned.

Friends and supporters of United Way of Denton County gathered at the grand ballroom at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton Convention Center for the 12th annual UNITED Tribute Gala on Saturday, January 27. The 12th annual UNITED Tribute gala raised over $230,000 and celebrated United Way of Denton County’s 70-year history to improve and transform lives across Denton County. 
The celebration recognized several companies, municipalities, and individuals for their dedication to mobilizing community resources so all can thrive. The “Lights, Camera, Action” themed event set the energy-filled mood as awards were given amidst an electric “Dancing with Our Stars” competition by a cast of 20 community volunteer dancers.  

The most prestigious award of the night was given to Denton local John Baines who was honored as the 2024 Dr. Bettye Myers Humanitarian Awardee for his lifelong dedication to creating opportunities that build a stronger Denton County.  

Other awardees of the night included: 

  • PointBank – Lead UNITED Award (highest percentage of leadership givers)
  • Pros PM – Give UNITED Award (highest percentage of employees who give) 
  • SCHEELS All Sports – Rise UNITED Award | Large Company (successful campaign and increased giving)
  • Bill Utter Ford – Rise UNITED Award | Midsize Company (successful campaign and increased giving)
  • Axis Realty Group/NorthBridge Management – Rise UNITED Award | Small Company (successful campaign and increased giving)
  • Town of Flower Mound– Trailblazer Award (excelled in their inaugural campaign)
  • Safran Electrical & Power – Kim Copely – Ambassador Award (employee with highest number of Campaign best practices implemented)

Peterbilt Motors Company General Manager Jason Skoog presented United Way of Denton County board chair Laura Behrens a ceremonial check for $530,597.57 announcing that this donation puts Peterbilt over the $9 million mark in donations to United Way of Denton County.  

“Peterbilt’s impact to United Way of Denton County and this community is unparallelled,” said Henderson. “Throughout the organization there is a culture of philanthropy and volunteerism that is focused on partnering with United Way in meaningful ways that create pathways to opportunity for all, especially the most vulnerable in Denton County.” 

The UNITED Tribute pre-show kicked off with “Live from the Blue Carpet” hosted by Sophia Anwar, Lois Kim and jAn Langelius. The pre-show blue carpet set the tone for the event with interviews as awardees, sponsors and guests arrived.  The full event was streamed and viewed at local watch parties across the county where others gathered remotely to donate and support their favorite dancers.

The featured entertainment of the evening was the crowd-favorite “Dancing with Our Stars” showcasing ten couples from across Denton County who volunteered countless hours since October to 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 Ben Esely of The Bearded Monk and Laurie Long representing Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. Votes from the audience – both at watch parties and in the ballroom – crowned Cindy & Keith Wise representing Sally Beauty as Dancing Champions and winners of the coveted Mirror Ball Trophies. 

The 12th annual UNITED Tribute generated over $230,000 for United Way of Denton County thanks to the dedication of event Co-Chairs Dr. Lacey Rainey of Denton ISD and Jessica DeRoche of North Central Texas College, and the Tribute Committee. 

Reflecting on the event, Henderson commented, “Every dollar raised tonight is critical financial support for the nonprofit partner agency grants and the collective impact homelessness, housing, mental health and workforce initiatives of United Way of Denton County.  As we close 2023 and launch into 2024, it is clear that more funds are needed to meet the needs of the truly vulnerable in our County.”