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Showing their true colors

With their hair painted team colors, Red Wing Shoe Co. President Dave Murphy (left) and Prairie Island nuclear plant site Vice President Kevin Davison shake hands Wednesday celebrating the 2013 United Way workplace fundraising campaign. Murphy’s team narrowly defeated Davison’s in a contest for greatest increase in employee participation. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun) 1 / 2
Becky Schilling, one of Red Wing Shoe Co.’s workplace campaign coordinators, takes a turn Wednesday morning spraying President Dave Murphy’s hair red. 2 / 2

A fundraising contest between teams led by Red Wing Shoe Co. and Xcel Energy was decided by one-tenth of a percentage point in the local United Way 2013 workplace campaign.

The Shoe’s Red Hot Intensity team increased employee participation by 7.4 percentage points, edging out Xcel Energy’s Cool Blue Brilliance with an increase of 7.3 points.

The contest originally called for the winning captain to paint his hair team colors; but, with the final tally so close, executives from both companies showed up with new looks Wednesday to a celebration at the Elks Lodge.

“We’re all winners,” said Red Wing Shoe Co. President Dave Murphy — sporting bright red hair — to a crowd of campaign participants and their families.

Murphy said he was glad to see the Shoe pull ahead after losing to Xcel Energy and Prairie Island nuclear plant site Vice President Kevin Davison in 2012, but it’s the community that ultimately benefits.

“The results speak for themselves,” said Davison, his hair painted royal blue. “We raised a lot of money.”

A total of 26 firms took part in the contest, including 604 new donors that brought in $160,000, said Maureen Nelson, executive director of the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha and Pierce Counties.

“This is a very generous community,” Nelson said. “I get to witness it every day and people constantly shock me with their kindness and caring.”

So far 34 firms submitted a combined $518,000 to the workplace campaign, she said, well ahead of the $410,000 goal and $18,000 more than the previous year. There also were 2,263 individual donors, 46 of whom gave over $1,000 each.

Nelson said businesses encouraged employees to contribute in different ways, everything from hosting lunch parties to silent auctions and paid-vacation offers. She said the biggest event is the Xcel Energy Golf Tournament, which raised more than $36,000 last year.

The bulk of the funds go to United Way Community Investment grants to help organizations provide education, health and basic needs programs. Teams of community volunteers reviewed grant applications over the past several months and made recommendations to the local United Way Board of Directors for final approval.

With such a close contest in 2013, both team captains said they look forward to continuing their campaign rivalry.

“We’ll make this bigger next year,” said Murphy, who floated — but stopped short of agreeing to — an idea to raise the stakes to shaving his hair and getting a head tattoo.

“We’ve made a couple adjustments this year, so we’re ready for the challenge if you are,” Davison replied.

A number of firms and their campaign coordinators also received awards Wednesday for participating in 2013. They are:

•Capital Safety — Rookie of the Year

•Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing, Cannon Falls and Lake City — Most Improved Campaign

•Jill Kolsky, Mayo Clinic Health System — Leader of the Year

•City of Red Wing — Comeback Campaign of the Year

•Red Wing Shoe Co., Xcel Energy and BIC APP/Norwood — All-Star Campaigns

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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