United Way of Pottawatomie County is gearing up for its annual kickoff. Keeping tradition with last year's event, the local United Way will again feature a singing competition, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center.

United Way of Pottawatomie County is gearing up for its annual kickoff. Keeping tradition with last year's event, the local United Way will again feature a singing competition, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center.

United Way has been accepting submissions via video, and the top four performers are to perform live at the United Way Campaign Kickoff Fiesta.

“We are excited to feature local talent through our competition,” Lindsay Dyer, United Way director, said.

Last year 18 groups competed — whether it be partner agencies, businesses or individuals, Community Relations Coordinator Amanda Teape Johnson said.

“We asked each group that entered to represent a partner agency of their choice,” Johnson said. “Some of the agencies competed as themselves, and some had someone else represent them.”

In its inaugural event last year Lux Olyvia was crowned the winner.

The community voted on favorites posted on Facebook.

Each dollar donated counted as one vote.

Over the course of eight weeks, two acts at a time were showcased on the United Way's Facebook page, where residents could donate to United Way and simultaneously vote for their favorite singer(s).

Out of the participating individual or group acts, $1,816 was collected during the show's duration.

Last year's finale

In the spirit of the reality show, four judges offered kudos and congrats to performers as they shared their talents. Emcee Nick Atwood walked the audience through the concert as judges determined who would be the winner.

Judges “Adam Levine,” a.k.a Michael Affentranger, “Alicia Keys,” a.k.a. Dyer, “Christina Aguilera,” a.k.a. Sarah Marchetti and “Pharell,” a.k.a. Chris Conway, perched on their thrones as musical acts were executed. The magistrates joked that “Blake Shelton” was unable to appear at the event.

Four finalists were chosen based on who had the highest vote totals. Those finalists performed at Life.Church.

Fourth-place finalist was local high-school sophomore Emily Day, representing American Red Cross, who performed an award-worthy rendition of the Les Miserables' “On My Own.”

Coming in third, Kassy Mize belted out “Don't Stop Believin,” — a Billboard Hit from the band Journey.

She represented Legacy Parenting.

Taking second place and representing Mission Shawnee was Mike Hawkins. Delivering of the low-pitched tune, he sang his version of “Ring of Fire,” recorded by country legend Johnny Cash in 1963.

The winner of the competition, Olyvia — a local high-schooler — represented Family Promise.

She sang an original folksy tune of her own called “Dog Bark,” while playing on guitar.

She joked that she almost backed out of the audition, but was thankful for the opportunity.

“I'm really thankful to be representing Family Promise,” she said. “Thank you to everybody who donated to every one of these amazing organizations; they're going to help a lot of people.”

Dyer said she was excited about how phenomenally talented the finalists were.

“It was great fun and there was a great turnout,” Dyer said.

To attend or donate

To purchase tickets to the Kickoff Fiesta — featuring live music and street tacos — call the United Way office at (405) 273-4012 or contact any United Way Board Member.

For more information or to donate to United Way of Pottawatomie County, visit www.unitedwaypottco.org or call the office.