United Way of Natrona County held their annual 'Grill and Chill' event on Wednesday, August 24 and it featured a myriad of guests, including current Wyoming Senator John Barrasso.

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The event highlighted many of the non-profit organizations in Natrona County, including the Child Development Center, Mimi's House, Unaccompanied Student Initiative, Art 321, Casper Pride, CASA of Natrona County, and so many more.

Each of these organizations provide very specific services to Natrona County, whether it's housing for homeless teenagers, food for those who don't have any, healthcare, and more.

"This means so much to our team and to all the non-profits in our town," said Nikki Hawley, the Executive Director of United Way of Natrona County. "Through our grant process, our job at United Way is to financially support our 35 partner agencies to help provide programs and services. These partner agencies then help others in our community. It’s our 68th Annual Campaign Kickoff! An opportunity to come together and give back to those who need us most."

And that's exactly what they did. There was food (that was the grill) there was music and games (that was the chill) and there were a number of various supporters espousing the importance of the United Way of Natrona County.

Senator Barrasso was one of those people.

"I've been involved with the United Way of Natrona County for a long time," Senator Barrasso told K2 Radio News. "I was actually the Campaign Chairman back when I was practicing medicine. In the first year, we raised over a million dollars and I've stayed committed ever since because the agencies and the services they deliver to the people of Central Wyoming are so critically important."

Barrasso moved to Wyoming in 1983 and he has served on various boards across Natrona County throughout his time here. When Barrasso worked as a physician in Casper (serving as the Chief of Staff for Wyoming Medical Center as well as having his own private practice in which he worked as an Orthopedic surgeon), Barrasso served as the State President of the Wyoming Medical Society, the President of the National Association of Physician Broadcasters, and he was a member of the American Medical Council of Ethics and Judicial Affairs.

Barrasso also served as a volunteer team physician for Casper College and various high schools and was the rodeo physician for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association.

In short, Barrasso understands the importance of non-profit work and of volunteering, which is why, he said, he was honored to come visit the organizations that are currently supported by United Way.

"The United Way is about helping people," Barrasso said. "That's what this is about.  And if you go from booth to booth to booth and talk to the big-hearted folks that they are the the commitment they have to this community and improving the lives of the people of this community, it really makes you feel good about living here in Casper, Wyoming."

Hawley agreed.

"Casper, time and time again, is recognized as one of the most giving communities in America," Hawley stated. "To anyone who lives here, it comes as no surprise. We understand that we are all in this together...and offer a helping hand whenever we can. That's the Wyoming way...and I think we take a great deal of pride in that."

The event took place at the David Street Station, which is just another example of community members and entities coming together for one common purpose.

"The United Way is just a group of different agencies that provide services to folks around our community," Barrasso said. "And these agencies do a great job. Here we are at David Street Station; I mean, what a wonderful addition to our town. This wasn't here a couple of years ago."

Indeed it was not, nor were some of the non-profits that were on-hand, such as Casper Pride, Mimi's House, and more. That day in August showed just how far Casper has come in such a short time, but also how much further it needs to keep going.

"The people of Wyoming are so generous - to the individual agencies and to the United Way, which oversees and coordinates the funds that come in to make sure more people are helped," Barrasso said. "As I always say, 'It's not about raising money; it's about helping people."

And that's exactly what United Way of Natrona County does.

Photos of the event can be seen below:

United Way of Natrona County Grill and Chill Event

United Way of Natrona County held their annual 'Grill and Chill' event on Wednesday, August 24 and it featured a myriad of guests, including current Wyoming Senator John Barrasso. 

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