Family, Fun, Food—And Flights

By United Way of King County, on June 23, 2022 | In Events

Colleen and Pat Maher brought their family to United Way of King County’s first Annual Community BBQ on Saturday because the mom of their daughter’s daycare classmate raved about the event. “It sounded like a great idea,” Pat said. “A great community event, good food—why not come out and have fun?”

The thought of winning free airline tickets never occurred to them.

That is until Colleen reached into her United Way SWAG bag, one of more than a thousand issued to those who attended the four-hour event at Renton Memorial Stadium. Her SWAG bag, like a handful of others, contained a glistening golden ticket. Colleen then redeemed the golden ticket for a one-of-a-kind prize–two Alaska Airlines seats to anywhere the airline flies.

The Mahers were among the lucky golden ticket winners who enjoyed an outing that included $10 plates of scrumptious BBQ, free desserts, rides, games, activities and performances.

More than 1,700 people attended the first Annual BBQ that United Way staged with former Seattle Seahawks standout receiver Doug Baldwin and support from generous sponsors such as Microsoft, Alaska Airlines, Delta Dental, Nordstrom and others. We all came together to give local communities an opportunity to emerge from the two years of COVID pandemic isolation and kick off the start of summer in grand fashion.

With a giveaway that harkens back to the 1964 novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, golden tickets randomly placed in SWAG (a colloquialism for Stuff We All Get) bags at the United Way BBQ assured that a select few attendees would walk away with memorable gifts. In addition to the Alaska Airlines tickets, other prizes included a Nintendo Switch gaming system, two $100 Jacks BBQ gift cards and aprons, a $100 gift card for Marjorie Restaurant, two $250 Safeway gift cards and four Reserve Club tickets to the Seattle-based OL Reign soccer games.

The Maher family, who reside in West Seattle, have already begun exploring travel possibilities. The couple has a ten-year wedding anniversary coming up in August and say that an Alaska Airlines trip to Kauai, HI is definitely an option.

I don’t know if I’ve ever won anything this big. I’m in my 14th year of teaching, so this is a treat.

Colleen Maher, winner of two free flight tickets courtesy of Alaska Airlines

“We need the grandparents to babysit, and mom and dad need to go out,” said Colleen, a special education teacher, while holding back tears of joy. “I don’t know if I’ve ever won anything this big. I’m in my 14th year of teaching, so this is a treat. Kauai definitely came up right away. Life has been hard the last two years, there’s a lot of stuff going on.”

The Maher family has Illinois ties (she’s from Chicago, he’s from Springfield), marking the second time in as many giveaways that the United Way winner of Alaska Airlines tickets have come from the Prairie State. Earlier this month, Paul Jonusaitis, who resides in Kirkland but is from Chicago, won two round-trip, main cabin Alaska Airlines tickets that United Way offered as a giveaway incentive for guests to donate at Eat, Drink & Be Generous events.

United Way thanks Alaska Airlines and all other sponsors who helped make our first Annual Community BBQ a success.


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