Wolverine hopes to duplicate record $500,000 donation

United Way benefits from fundraising

Rob Koenen is this year’s Wolverine Worldwide United Way chairperson.

Once again, Wolverine Worldwide is embracing its long-time partnership with United Way with new and exciting events designed to raise money for local charities and build a strong sense of community. Last year, the company set a new fundraising record by generating over $500,000 in support for local United Way charities.

“We plan to take the partnership to a new level with both financial support and local participation,” according to Rob Koenen, this year’s Wolverine Worldwide United Way chairperson.

This year’s activities will get underway with the Second Annual Corporate Challenge being held in downtown Grand Rapids. Wolverine Worldwide footwear design teams occupy a space at 70 Ionia, called GRid70 (Grand Rapids Innovation and Design at 70 Ionia), with other creative minds from Meijer, Amway and Steelcase.

The Corporate Challenge stemmed from a meeting between Steelcase and Wolverine Worldwide employees. Both companies felt that the competitive nature of the teams would bring out the best the employees had to offer, in both fun and funds. Thus, the idea of competing against each other evolved. The first Corporate Challenge took place last fall and included a scavenger hunt with activities like a chair race on the blue bridge, singing and dancing on the roof of the JW Marriott, and was followed by a great time at the after party at GRid70. Teams were made up from all the companies who occupy the GRid70 building as well as a team from United Way. Steelcase emerged victorious last year, winning the inaugural event, but Wolverine plans on leading the way this year. “This year is payback time,” said Koenen.

The scope of the event has already outgrown the size of the GRid70 building. The after party will be held at a much larger venue—the rooftop of the Lacks Center at St. Mary’s Hospital. This year’s scavenger hunt is going to be more challenging and exciting, and the after party will have some exciting auction items from many great local companies. Additional participating teams will be from Priority Health, St. Mary’s, Metro and Spectrum hospitals, Sprint and United Way, to name just a few.

Besides having fun with some of West Michigan’s other community-enriching companies, Wolverine Worldwide also knows how to show a good time to our local Rockford residents. They will, once again, be hosting the Mega Sample Sale this fall on the grounds of their corporate headquarters. Last year, in one day, over $100,000 was raised, of which 100% of the money was donated directly to United Way. This year’s sale is planned for September 22. More information will be shared once it becomes available.

Last march at the annual “Live United” awards ceremony, Wolverine was presented with the Live United Award, the most prestigious prize.

Seth Cobb, Wolverine’s chairperson for 2010, said, “So now it’s official, last year we ran the single best United Way campaign in West Michigan. Seriously, this is an unbelievable honor. It recognizes all of our hard work last year. And it’s a reminder that we work for a special company with a culture of helping the people in our local communities who need it most.”

Wolverine Worldwide is not only our neighbor here in Rockford, but they clearly are concerned about giving back to all of their neighbors in West Michigan.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.