SUWANEE -- Annandale Village this fall is combining its need for a fundraising campaign with election season. And this event has plenty of puns and plays on words to go around.
The facility that supports people with developmental disabilities has brought at least 12 community leaders together for a fundraiser that kicks off Aug. 30 and ends Nov. 1. Those leaders will compete to raise money in the quest to be the winning "politician" who gets to kiss a pig. Keith Fenton, chief development and marketing officer at Annandale, said candidates will compete for "Hamerica's vote" and the winner will smooch the swine on "InHOGaration Day."
"We're really playing it up big time," Fenton said. "The whole purpose of this is to raise awareness for developmental disabilities, and to raise dollars to support people with developmental disabilities."
Each candidate has committed to raise at least $5,000, and some have pledged $20,000 to $30,000, Fenton said, with each dollar pledged from friends, family, business colleagues and others representing a vote.
Fenton said the fundraising campaign could top the $200,000 goal that the organization raises in the spring with its annual Jazzy Thing event.
It's the first program of its kind for Annandale, Fenton said.
"Because of the economic downturn, people are running out of dollars," Fenton said of families paying for care at Annandale. "For us to elevate our level of service for those we serve, we've got to recognize (that) we've got to raise more money."
Fenton said he ran a kiss the pig program 10 years ago for another organization and raised about $400,000.
Among the candidates who have announced are Pam Ledbetter of Accent South Media, Judy Waters with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, Nick Masino of the Gwinnett Chamber, Greg Whitlock of The Whitlock Group, Dr. Suzanne Molock of Gwinnett Pediatrics, Doug Ireland, a Suwanee City Councilman, Arlene Beckles of Turner Broadcasting, James Hudson of NCR, Houston Bass of BB&T, Amy Greiner of Edward Jones, former Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Wayne Hill and Elliot Brack of the Gwinnett Forum.
Fenton said a representative from Georgia Gwinnett College would also join the campaign.
"I'm humbled to be included in that lineup," Ireland said.
Ireland said he's helped the Muscular Dystrophy Association with events like this, but it's a different feel when something is nearby.
"This is right here in our own backyard," he said. "We have a great partnership with Annandale. They love being in Suwanee, and we love that they're here."
Annandale has created a logo for the event, and campaign signs similar to road signs for political candidates. There will also be a website where contributors can make tax-deductible donations, Fenton said. Piggy banks in retail businesses and T-shirts will also be available around town.
Fenton said most of the candidates were asked to join the campaign, but they were selected because they either had a previous connection to Annandale or have previously contributed something to the community through leadership or volunteering.
"We wanted to make sure they're qualified candidates, because we're highlighting them in a pretty significant way," Fenton said. "At the same time, they're going to make a big difference for us."