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On a quest to do good

Iowa icon Carson King helps out the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, again
Tammy Mahmens takes a picture of her granddaughter Blaire with Carson King Saturday, Nov. 23, during the Corridor Market: Holiday Edition at the Bella Sala Event Center, in Tiffin. King, who rose to notoriety by raising $3 million for the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, was accepting gifts and donations for kids and their families at the hospital.

TIFFIN– On Sept. 14, a new Iowa icon was created. Cable sports network ESPN’s Game Day program was in Ames for the University of Iowa (UI) versus Iowa State University football game when their cameras picked up a young man named Carson King holding a cardboard sign seeking beer money. What started as a joke quickly escalated into a serious fundraiser as thousands of people from across the country responded. The light-hearted jest quickly became a fundraiser for the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, in Iowa City, and culminated in King presenting the hospital with a check for $3,004,202.14.
However, this was only the start for King, who launched a crusade to do good works. King was a special guest of the Corridor Market: Holiday Edition, held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23, at the Bella Sala Event Center in Tiffin. King, resplendent in an Iowa State sweater, was on site Saturday accepting donations for Christmas presents to go to the kids and families who will spend the holidays in the hospital. For King, it was just the continuation of a journey he never expected.
“I thought the best that would happen out of that (holding up the sign on TV) was somebody behind me would see it and get a laugh, and then to turn it into $3 million plus, its been really, really neat to be along for the ride.” King said.
King expanded from raising money for charities to speaking to schools about the pitfalls of social media. As the fundraising for the children’s hospital was taking off with corporate donors coming on board, a Des Moines Register reporter discovered King’s social media posts from a decade ago some would find offensive in nature. In the wake of the discovery, Anheuser-Busch quickly distanced itself from King. But others rallied around King and his cause. The result, above and beyond the money raised, was a series of life lessons for King, which he is eager to share with others.
“I’ve been speaking to schools and businesses about the power of positivity, handling yourself in the face of adversity, kindness and the power and presence of social media, both good and bad,” he said.
Currently, his foundation is in the process of laying the groundwork for him to make a career out of fundraising through motivational speaking. In the meantime, King is actively working with the Make A Wish Foundation, which works with volunteers, donors and supporters to grant a wish to children diagnosed with a critical incident. According to its website, wish.org, a wish is granted every 34 minutes on average. Next spring, he’ll partner up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as a contender for their “Man of the Year.” The winner is determined by who raises the most money for continuing research and treatment of blood cancers. It’s a more personal crusade for King.
“I lost a grandfather to Leukemia,” King said. “So that’s a cause that’s near and dear to me.”
Ultimately, his goal is to, “Keep spreading good and helping out any way I can.”
The Corridor Market featured over 70 vendors from across the Midwest peddling hand crafted and homemade wares, jewelry, crafts and other items with a holiday flair. The event kicked off with a Friday afternoon early bird sale, ahead of a Saturday morning Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar, and live entertainment from Zachary Freedom and DJ Riley Mullane.