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United Way Honors Steve Smith with ‘Leading the Way’ Award

By BILL NORTON, United Way of Central Carolinas

Former Carolina Panthers team ambassador to United Way helps Mooresville-Lake Norman office raise over $25,000 at event in Davidson

DSC_0419United Way of Central Carolinas presented NFL receiver Steve Smith with its “Leading the Way” award at a fundraising event in Davidson last night. Organized by United Way’s Mooresville-Lake Norman office, the event had more than 100 attendees and raised just over $25,000 for United Way through sponsorships and donations.

A longtime United Way donor who still resides in Charlotte, Smith was the Carolina Panthers’ team ambassador to United Way for many years. Now through his family foundation, Smith continues to champion some of the same causes as United Way, such as preventing domestic violence, mentoring at-risk teens and helping children in need.

United Way - Steve Smith - 02-18-2016-6570“As tremendous as your NFL career has been, we’re not here tonight because of what you’ve achieved in football,” said Sean Garrett, United Way’s executive director, when presenting Smith the award. “United Way and this community honor you for what you’ve accomplished off the field, using your influence to take a stand and make change happen.”

The event was hosted by Ingersoll Rand at its corporate campus, and was sponsored by EY, Wells Fargo and Shelco. WBTV’s Paul Cameron emceed the event.

“When I was with the Panthers, I embraced my role as United Way ambassador because I believe in what they do,” said Smith. “It’s not enough to support one cause. If we reduce domestic violence, but a child doesn’t get a good education, have we done enough? If we help a child live a healthy lifestyle, but we don’t recognize his mental illness, is their life really better? We will only succeed if we are united in giving back.”

United Way’s longstanding partnership with the NFL has been in the spotlight in 2016, helped by current Panthers ambassador Bené Benwikere – a Super Bowl tickets raffle raised $26,700 for local graduation efforts, while a challenge versus Mile High United Way produced $2,000 worth of new books for local schools.

About United Way of Central Carolinas
United Way of Central Carolinas creates change for a stronger community – from Charlotte/Mecklenburg to Cabarrus, Mooresville/Lake Norman, Union and Anson – by focusing on Children & Youth, Housing & Stability, and Health & Mental Health. To get help, call United Way’s 211 hotline, or to learn how you can help, visit