Burger fund-raiser may turn on Howard lights

16 McDonald's restaurants to donate proceeds share

High Schools

September 17, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

A lot of Howard County athletes may be singing the latest McDonald's advertising slogan, "I'm lovin' it," come Sept. 27.

That's the night 16 McDonald's restaurants in Howard County will donate 25 percent of all proceeds from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. toward the fund-raising effort that eventually will light 11 Howard County public high school stadiums.

The McDonald's contribution is expected to raise from $10,000 to $20,000 and possibly complete a $1,085,000 community-driven project.

At least five high schools are expected to be lighted in time for Oct. 1 contests, including a River Hill at Oakland Mills boys soccer game.

"We're $25,000 to $30,000 short right now," Doug Hostetler, the project's finance committee chairman, said yesterday. "By Monday [Sept. 27], we expect to have it."

Three recent corporate donors were crucial in helping the committee reach its goal. Those included $25,000 donations each from ezStorage and Classic Photography & Imaging and a $50,000 donation from The Rouse Co.

The largest donor of $100,000 was Bernie Dancel, founder and chief executive of Ascend One Corp. in Columbia. McDonald's would bring the total number of corporate donors to 20.

"We need the community at-large to support this," said Cathy Bell, who owns four of the McDonald's restaurants. "We're doing this to fulfill our social responsibility. It's an extension of our commitment to educational partnership in general. We feel it will help the students and the community now and in the future."

Hostetler said that $30,000 has been raised from the sale of high school football season tickets for a premium of $80 above the normal cost. He expects another $10,000 from such sales in the coming week.

Howard County Coordinator of Athletics Don Disney had set a Sept. 28 deadline for raising the final money for the lights to go on for Oct. 1 games.

"The lights are up at Oakland Mills, Mount Hebron and Glenelg," said Disney. "We expect to have five, possibly seven, schools lighted by Oct. 1, depending on the weather."

The two-year campaign to get stadium lights called for an equity-based format in which wealthier schools would be treated the same as poorer schools, and no school could turn on its lights until all the money needed was raised.

"I won't celebrate until all the lights are up," said Disney. "It's been like jogging behind a truck with barrels that keep falling off. There's been one obstacle after another."

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