United Way of Story County (UWSC) held a special kickoff event and speed reading competition for its Young Leaders Society (YLS) on Sept. 10 at the Boys and Girls Club in Ames. YLS is a UWSC affinity group for those individuals 40 and younger who contribute between $250 and $999 to the LIVE UNITED annual campaign. Members and guests were invited to the kickoff event.

The event featured a speed reading competition, with local celebrities as guest readers. Celebrity readers included Dr. Jill Alexander, McFarland Clinic; Jerri Heid, Ames Public Library; Dr. Tom Hill, Iowa State University; Meredith Miller, Finesse Spa Salon; Jamie Pollard, Iowa State University; Trent Rice, KASI/KCCQ and Tawyna Zerr, Ames Cupcake Emporium. There were three rounds, and participants had to read popular children’s books for 15-20 seconds. A panel of judges, including two four-year-olds from ChildServe, advanced readers to the next round based on speed, accuracy and likability from the youngest judges (all readers got four enthusiastic thumbs up).

"The celebrity speed reading competition was a fun way to highlight a very serious topic, the importance of early literacy," said Kristin Pates, UWSC’s campaign director. "I think the committee is proud to put on an event that has so many people talking about it – both before and after. This was a new and entertaining way to highlight the impact United Way of Story County has in setting our children up for future academic success. We hope the community will join in the celebration as we look to the next 60 years and beyond."

View video of the event at: http://www.uwstory.org/Recent_YLS_Activities.php.

YLS committee members include Angela Carl, BASF (co-chair); Jennifer Hanson, Ames National Corporation (co-chair); Bret Bartholomew, Bartholomew Chiropractic; Damien Corrieri, Mary Greeley Medical Center; Amber Deardorff, Mary Greeley Medical Center; Matt Emerson, Ames City Assessor; Kristen Kane, Kreg Tool; Jenny Pollard, ISU Alumni Association; Melissa Rowan, ISU Foundation; Angie Strotman, Danfoss Power Solutions; Jenni Talbott, McFarland Clinic and Matt Vaughn, Renewable Energy Group.

UWSC is a strategic leader in building countywide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.