Folks have never seen Jerry Koontz like this.
Or heard him.
A good thing, he joked.
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“I can’t sing a hoot,” said Koontz, president of the United Way of Manatee County for 17 years. “That is not my strong suit at all.”
It won’t stop him.
Unless people pony up more to keep him quiet, Koontz is prepared to rock the house at noon Sept. 14 at Renaissance on 9th for the United Way’s 2010-11 annual fundraising campaign kickoff.
The goal is $2.75 million and what better way to get it started, he said, than to “have people pay to hear Jerry sing? Or pay him not to sing?”
Koontz will be backed up by the “Manatee UniTunes” — United Way staffers Ken Atkinson, Bronwyn Beightol, Tara Donovan and Tish Jones.
“This is a dream come true,” joked Beigthol, the director of community investments.
Can the boss sing?
“Have you heard him?” said Jones, an administrative assistant.
“He absolutely cannot sing, but that’s the best part,” said Donovan, director of resource development. “He’s a sport.”
In spring 2009, Koontz grew a mustache and goatee, and board members got into a bidding contest whether the hirsute look should stay or go.
It went. For $1,400.
Then Koontz volunteered to “take if off for United Way.”
That is, lose 20 pounds.
He lost 17. For another $2,500.
Which brings us to this singing gig.
Campaign chairwoman Beth Bender, an “American Idol” buff, came up with the idea.
“I thought it’d be fun to put him in a less serious light, doing whatever it took for getting pledges,” said the SunTrust Bank senior vice president.
“I want to see him do Donna Summer.”
Can you picture 67-year-old Jerry Koontz belting out the disco queen’s 1983 smash, “She Works Hard For The Money”?
“I’ve done worse things to raise money for United Way,” Koontz said. “But I said if I’m going to actually have to do this, at least give me some artists I know something about.”
At least that will include three other songs United Way supporters can vote on him singing. Or not.
n Elvis Presley — “Hound Dog”
n The Temptations — “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”
n Willie Nelson — “If You’ve Got The Money, Honey.”
Koontz prefers Elvis and can do Willie Nelson — “I put a clothes pin on my nose for that nasal sound.” — but he’s got a couple of other favorites, too.
“I’ve got Sirius radio in my car with three channels preset. One’s Elvis channel. One’s Sinatra. The other’s Jimmy Buffett. That’s what I like to listen to,” he said.
Whether the kickoff luncheon audience likes listening is another deal.
“Whatever we do, it’s going to be comical, not serious,” Koontz said. “It should be hilarious.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.