VAN WERT – Thursday night during the girls’ basketball game between Lincolnview at Crestview, teams from the two schools united for the annual “Dash for Cash,” as part of the “Rivals United” fundraiser for the United Way of Van Wert County. The exercise is repeated the next night during a boys’ game, this year, Crestview at Lincolnview.

“We’ve done this for several years during this annual fund-raiser,” said local United Way executive director Vicki Smith. “At the boys and girls varsity game during the contest, students dash through the stands to collect donations at the end of the first quarter of both the girls and boys games. Money collected will help each individual school total in ‘Rivals’ contest tallies.”

Smith said early Friday morning that total fund-raising so far is approaching $20,000. She admitted that schools being shut down because the past couple of days has disrupted some of the flow of the competition. She hopes to have the grand tally for this year’s event early next week.

“This is really a lot of fun,” said Lincolnview student Brad Korte. “It brings out the best of competition for such a good cause in each community. It gets the people to work together in the various communities for a really good reason.”

Crestview’s Isaiah Laturner sees the competition to be both challenging and bonding for the kids from each school.

“Every year it’s a lot of fun coming together for such a good cause,” said Laturner. “Even though we look at it as competition, in the end, it is really bonding. It brings everyone together and unites friendships in each school.”

“I always really enjoy this,” said Crestview’s Colby Swager. “It’s really about the two schools coming together to raise money and making new friends.”

In addition to the major competitive events on a community scale, schools have an individual competition to raise money within each school system. Special days such as, “pajama day,” “pie in the face,” “jail and bail,” “pizza party” and other activities enable students in each school to build each’s individual donation.

Deb Laudick, this year’s campaign chairman, said that in spite of the individual competition between the schools, she likes it that in the end, students understand that in the end, they are raising money for critical needs in the Van Wert area.

“I like it because of the rivalry involved, they are all into raising money for the United Way because they understand the good they do,” said Laudick. “I like the creativity of it all. Each year they are trying new things.”

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Lincolnview’s Victoria Snyder. “It is something how so many organizations give so much to us. We call it competition, but it really is, ‘united’, in the end.

“I really like making a lot of new friends,” said Snyder enthusiastically.