A fountain of goodwill

Marc Bitzer, left, vice chairman at Whirlpool Corp., and Dave Binkley, senior vice president, global human resources at Whirlpool, celebrate Wednesday after running through the Whirlpool Compass Fountain in St. Joseph. (Don Campbell | Staff)

Marc Bitzer, left, vice chairman at Whirlpool Corp., and Dave Binkley, senior vice president, global human resources at Whirlpool, celebrate Wednesday after running through the Whirlpool Compass Fountain in St. Joseph. (Don Campbell | Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — The sight of people frolicking in the Whirlpool Compass Fountain is not unusual this time of year.

However, the sight Wednesday of two men dressed in regular business attire getting soaked in the fountain did qualify as strange.

But it was all for a good cause.

The two men were Whirlpool Corp. Vice Chairmen Marc Bitzer and Whirlpool Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources Dave Binkley. They cooled off in the fountain as a means to raise money for the United Way of Southwest Michigan.

Similar to last summer’s ubiquitous Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS, Whirlpool and the United Way have created what’s called the Splash or Cash Challenge.

The challenge idea was generated out of a brainstorming session at Whirlpool, Bitzer said.

“We focused on how we could dial up the fun factor around giving to United Way,” said Bitzer, who carried a United Way flag through the fountain. “With the Whirlpool Compass Fountain in our backyard, it was a natural fit and something we thought would catch on with our fellow employees.”

The rules are simple. If challenged, participants have the option to consider taking a splash in the Whirlpool Fountain or making a $20 contribution to United Way online.

If a nominee is chosen to participate in the splash, they must have someone film them going through the fountain and nominate three others. Community donations for the Splash and Cash Challenge can be made to the United Way of Southwest Michigan online at www.uwsm.org.

Since beginning July 22, Bitzer said the challenge has caught on among senior Whirlpool officials, and among plant workers in other cities working to replicate the challenge in their areas.

The challenge will continue until Aug. 31 and is open to anyone in the community. Juliet Johnson, Whirlpool’s Media and Public Relations manager, said Whirlpool’s local fundraising goal is set at $2.4 million.

Bitzer and Binkley pledged $1,000 Wednesday. They later challenged Whirlpool Chairman & CEO Jeff Fettig and Executive Vice President, Global Product Organization David Szczupak, respectively, to take part.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 6, 2015)

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