University News

Western Challenge 2021 Meets … and Exceeds … Goal

April 28, 2021

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – As the saying goes, Leathernecks are the first ones in and the last ones out, going the distance in whatever they do. And members of the Western Illinois University Leatherneck family proved that once again as they helped WIU meet – and exceed – its goal for the Western Challenge event on April 24.

According to Tim Hallinan, director of Annual Giving at WIU, this year's event set a record as more than 1,000 donors contributed to the success of the fifth annual Western Challenge Online Giving campaign. Donors from 43 states and Canada helped to raise $202,301 in the 24+-hour event.

"'Together as One' emphasized how the Leatherneck community can unite in giving with individual gifts of any size to raise the profile of our University and create incredible opportunities for our students. We highlighted that our reasons, as well as our opportunities, to support Western are as diverse as our Leatherneck community," said Hallinan. "The Western Challenge demonstrates that when we come together to support what we love at Western, there is no limit to what we can achieve for our students."

Through social media, email campaigns, texting and other communication, more than 40 campus and community advocates joined together to encourage giving at every level.

"Our online advocates from every area are phenomenal," he added. "From making their own gifts, promoting the event on social media, to leveraging matches and challenges, we couldn't do it without them."

Numerous campus areas benefited from the match and challenge dollars unlocked during the Western Challenge. Alumni donors pledging a match or challenge include Gerald Lang, Scott Clarke, Sam Oliva, Molly Holmes, Jim Carter, Ronald Pettigrew, Martin O'Connor, Marty Dorow, Brian Savage, Deb Miller, Caleb Markey and Mac Price.

"As always, our alumni and friends stepped up to show their WIU pride through the Western Challenge as we celebrated Purple and Gold Day," said Alumni Director Amy Spelman. "They made gifts, they advocated, they challenged each other, they provided incentives and they came out Leatherneck strong. The WIU Mega Reunion group showed up in full force to lead the overall effort in the number of donors to their campaign - 284 of the 1,014 donors. In addition, the Alumni Association's sub campaign goal was more than doubled under the WIU Alumni Council's leadership. All 1,014 donors to the Western Challenge were truly together for our Leatherneck Legacy."

Donors chose to support a wide range of needs during the Western Challenge, including student scholarships, equipment and facility upgrades, athletics, the mascot memorial and learning opportunities that without donor support would not exist.

"We look forward to the annual Western Challenge and Purple & Gold Day because it is an uplifting day for all of us to see so much support. With all Western has been through this past year because of the pandemic, this year's Western Challenge was even more uplifting," said Brad Bainter, executive officer of the WIU Foundation. "I want to thank everyone across our campus who worked to make this day successful and, of course, I want to thank all of our donors for getting us to our goal. I specifically want to thank our Director of Annual Giving Tim Hallinan for all of his hard work and dedication to this special day. Without his effort and dedication, the Western Challenge does not succeed. We are already looking forward to the 2022 Western Challenge and Purple & Gold Day."

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