DAVIDSON – Mike Rucker recalls how the United Way helped his family survive the aftermath of a Missouri River flood that devastated their community in 1993.

Rucker was a high school junior then – several years away from making his mark as a defensive end with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

“That’s when I saw the impact United Way and United Way agencies can have on a community,” he said. “Thanks to various agencies, I was supported with food, water, clothing and the basic necessities that were taken away during the flood.

Rucker spoke to a gathering of more than 60 potential donors during a reception organized by the United Way of Central Carolinas’ Mooresville/Lake Norman office Oct. 17 at River Run Country Club.

“My father always told me that even when you think you’re in a tough spot, there are always others in a tougher spot than you,” he told the group. “That advice has guided me throughout my career and has inspired me to give back.”

Shelley Henderson, communications director for the Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, also shared how her belief in United Way was strengthened when she was on the receiving end.

Hospice and Palliative Care of Cabarrus County supported Henderson and her four children after a tragedy involving the death of her husband.

“This United Way-funded agency helped my family live again,” Henderson said. “United Way isn’t an insurance policy that guarantees you won’t face hard times, but it’s an assurance policy that you can find help and hope when you need it.”

Renaldo Wynn, director of business development for Joe Gibbs Racing, told the crowd that he didn’t think extreme needs existed in the Lake Norman area until he toured nonprofits like the Ada Jenkins Center and Mooresville/Lake Norman Christian Mission.

The United Way’s Mooresville/Lake Norman office hopes to raise $1.2 million for its 2013 campaign. Its umbrella organization, the United Way of Central Carolinas, has set a goal of $21.4 million.

“Beyond reaching a fundraising goal, our donors want to know that they are making a difference,” said Linda Beck, community director for the MLN office. “The remarks shared by Shelley Henderson and Mike Rucker at the reception clearly demonstrated the impact donors’ dollars can have on individual lives and the total community.”