ARLINGTON, Texas – The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas announced the "Live United. Forever." concert event and its partnership with Texas Instruments for the "Nine for 90" series Wednesday at AT&T Stadium.
The concert is the culminating event of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas 90th Anniversary Celebration, and "Nine for 90" is a series of volunteer-driven community service projects and events celebrating the 90 years of service United Way's provided to North Texas communities.
Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman is a co-chair of the celebration, as well as Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president and chief brand officer of the Cowboys.
"Individually, Charlotte and Troy are extraordinary, but together they're a powerful and influential combination, and the star power that they're bringing to this milestone celebration really is unparalleled," said Jennifer Sampson, president and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.
Aikman said it was Sampson's encouragement and insistence that initially got him involved.
"I always try to just bet on the people involved, whatever that may be, whether it's business, whether it's charity, whether it's playing for the Cowboys, whatever it might be," Aikman said. "When I had a chance to meet with Jennifer and really see what direction this was going, I knew that she was going to be doing things the right way and I knew that we were going to make an impact. I was pretty honored to be asked to be a part of the board." [embedded_ad]
Aikman was a part of the Super Bowl host committee when the Super Bowl was held in Dallas. That's when he first met with Sampson, who requested a meeting and talked about getting involved with an initiative with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas about tackling childhood obesity.
"The name of that program was Healthy Zone Schools," Aikman said. "Having young daughters, I was certainly in favor of the efforts, but the timing wasn't quite right for me, and as I mentioned to Jennifer then, if I'm going to get involved with anything that has to do with health and fitness in this part of the country, somehow, some way, Dr. (Daniel) Cooper has to be involved with this. And so the meeting was adjourned and a couple months pass and Jennifer comes back and she said, 'We got Dr. Cooper. He's on board, and we'd really love to have you be a part of this.' So that was my first exposure to Jennifer.'"
After Aikman got on board, both he and Sampson went to visit Anderson at Valley Ranch to ask if she'd join with the anniversary celebration.
"Nobody really says no to Troy Aikman, so I didn't either," Anderson said. "I didn't want to be the first, and I'm so glad that I did. I am just so excited to be a part of such a special organization that's doing such amazing things in our community.
"It's also the 125th anniversary of the Salvation Army, and the Salvation Army was one of the first organizations to benefit from the United Way when it was founded, and there has been a very special relationship for many, many years, and really the United Way is a lot of the reason why the Salvation Army can help so many people. So that is a very special connection for us that we truly appreciate and we're glad we're getting the chance here to be a part of that reunion again."
The "Nine for 90" is a series of nine community service projects championed by one of nine Cowboys legends who've participated in the United Way and NFL partnership.
The nine Cowboys who've appeared in United Way PSAs over the years are Roger Staubach, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Charlie Waters, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Jason Witten and Aikman.
"The Healthy Zone School Program is something that I'm real proud to be a part of and really is benefitted by the addition of Dr. Cooper and his expertise in that field," Aikman said. "We wanted to be able to incentivize schools to have recess and P.E. as part of the curriculum and have an opportunity for these kids to have healthier choices within the lunchroom… Through the Healthy Zone School Project and United Way Metropolitan Dallas, we've been able to incentivize these schools to keep those things at the forefront of these schools, and we're making a real difference."
The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas is one of the largest non-governmental funders of programs, investing nearly $50 million in the community programs focused on education, income and health in North Texas.
It will culminate its year-long anniversary celebration with the "Live United. Forever." Gala and concert presented by Kimberly-Clark Corporation at AT&T Stadium on Feb. 7, 2015.
"I think you're going to have to think really big," Sampson said. "We had a meeting with the Pepsi Co. team on Monday and started talking about the possibilities. I can't say anything today, but stay tuned for some really exciting news over the next few months. We're going to share ways for the entire community to get involved in this effort."