The United Way of Wayne County just keeps coming up with big hits.
This time, its members have convinced Jerry Narron -- "The Big Read Machine" as fundraising campaign chairman Geoff Hulse calls him -- to come in and bat cleanup for their Bring It On campaign.
Bring It On is the moniker the United Way has given its final push toward its $1.44 million 2006 funding goal.
As the the campaign reaches certain stepping stones -- 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent -- rewards will be given to the community.
When it reaches 90 percent, Narron, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, has agreed to lead a storyhour at Wayne County Public Library in Goldsboro.
"We're definitely looking forward to it," children's librarian Shorlette Ammons-Stephens said. "We're excited the United Way decided to include literacy in the campaign and we're excited for Mr. Narron to come read to our children. I know the community will enjoy it."
And while it will be a little different from managing a baseball team, Narron said he doesn't think he will have any problems -- not after raising and reading to five children of his own.
But he's not sure yet what he'll read.
"It depends on how close to Christmas it is," he said. "It might be a Christmas book. If it's after Christmas, it might be a baseball book. It could be a combination."
Narron, who was named manager in 2005, just completed his first full season at the helm of The Big Red Machine. Originally from Goldsboro -- he graduated from Goldsboro High School -- Narron was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1974 as a catcher. In all, he played nearly 14 years of major league ball and has been a coach or manager ever since.
Still, he was excited when United Way asked for his help.
"I love Goldsboro. I love everything I can do to help people here," he said.
For the United Way, Hulse continued, Narron agreeing to help out is great news.
"Jerry is a hometown hero," he said. "I'm real excited that someone with that level of involvement in Major League Baseball would be thoughtful enough and caring enough to do something for us back home."
But to give Narron the chance to show his reading skills are as good as his baseball skills, United Way must continue to raise money. Right now the campaign is sitting at about 65 percent -- $955,388.
Because it's reached the 60 percent mark, state Rep. Louis Pate will be packing pickles at Mt. Olive Pickle Co. at 5:30 p.m. today.
Once it reaches 70 percent, Goldsboro Mayor Al King will serve coffee at Starbucks. At 80 percent, Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders will serve doughnuts at Krispy Kreme and at 100 percent, Hulse will be skydiving from 14,000 feet.
United Way donations can be dropped off at the United Way office on William Street or at one of several locations in Wayne County -- The Goldsboro News-Argus, the Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce or the RBC Centura Bank on Spence Avenue.
They can also be mailed to the United Way office, 308 N. William St., Goldsboro, N.C. 27530.