Pacesetters getting running start on United Way fundraising push

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 12, 2009

One-year-old Larry King Jr. was diagnosed seven months ago with cytomegalovirus, which causes hearing and vision loss and neurological problems in infants.

The baby, nicknamed L.J., must attend Magnolia Speech School in Jackson. Thanks to the United Way of West Central Mississippi, he can, his father, Larry King Sr., said Wednesday during the United Way Pacesetters’ 2009 campaign kickoff.

The Pacesetters are 10 businesses and the Vicksburg Warren School District, new to the group this year, that are getting a head start on the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign. Their numbers will be used to encourage others to dig in to meet this year’s $1.4 million goal, set last month. The campaign is comprised of an 11-member cabinet, led by Chairman Robyn Lea. Susan Loflin is this year’s Pacesetters chairman.

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“Not everyone will help you with your problems,” said King, 25. “I’m just thanking God for United Way and the people who work there.”

L.J.’s mother, Tranice King, 24, showed complications during pregnancy, and their doctor advised abortion.

“I don’t believe in that,” King said, gazing at his son.

L.J.’s vision and hearing has improved, said his father, due to a hearing aid provided through United Way efforts.

The 11 Pacesetters will finish raising funds by Aug. 31, a day before the official campaign begins. This is the VWSD’s first year as a Pacesetter, said United Way director Barbara Tolliver.

“I think that’s growth,” she said.

During the 2008 United Way campaign, $1,427,637 was raised — about $97,363 shy of a $1,525,000 goal.


Contact Tish Butts at