Editor's note: A previous version of this story included incorrect information about when the campaign ends. This version has been corrected. 

Texas Ruegg recalled his son, Lukas, being born 2 and 1/2 months prematurely in 2012 because his wife, Penni, had a tumor.

Penni died six months later from cervical cancer, Ruegg said.

Ruegg, the registrar at LeTourneau University, wiped his eyes as he spoke Thursday during the kickoff of the annual campaign drive of the Greater Longview United Way at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

“There are people that are hurting, that you have no idea,” Ruegg told a luncheon audience of about 400 people. “We can help them.”

Ruegg, a Hallsville High School graduate who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from LeTourneau and is pursuing a doctorate in education there, said he thought about how he could help others.

He talked about scarcity vs. abundance, and used a pie, projected on two screens, as a metaphor. He said room exists for more than one pie so people don’t have to fight over getting a slice of one.

Ruegg challenged his listeners to “tip the balance” in favor of abundance to help others to succeed.

“There is no limit to success,” he said. He said afterward that he speaks at a number of conferences with focus on leadership and work/life balance.

Ruegg was the keynote speaker at the kickoff campaign with the theme “Change Does Not Happen Alone.”

Annual campaign board members sought to inspire attendees with Ruegg’s talk, brief speeches and a video that contained testimonials from two people who have benefited from services funded by the United Way.

The Greater Longview United Way has 22 partner agencies that provide 36 programs that help people in areas such as education, income and health care. The organization relies on payroll deductions, fundraisers and other contributions.

United Way Board President Kelly Overby said the goal for the 2019-2020 campaign, which concludes in March 2020, is to raise $1,241,256. United Way supporters succeeded in the 2018-2019 goal of $1,128,415 by raising $1,178,680.

“It takes all of you to make this happen,” she said. “You are our game changers. We are looking forward to a great campaign.

“This is going to be an amazing year,” Overby said.

United Way Executive Director Donna Sharp, Pacesetter Chairman Chris Davis and others made brief presentations during the 90-minute event.

“If you can spend time to change one life, that change is going to have a ripple effect,” Davis said.

The program concluded with Sharp presenting the Gene Dworsky Award for humanitarianism to Glenda Jackson.

Sharp said Jackson is a humanitarian “in every meaning” of the word, adding she volunteers in every aspect of United Way.

The award is named in honor of Dworsky, who has supported the United Way since he arrived in Longview in 1959 to join Eastman Chemical Co. He now is retired.