HJ - Carson King Donation to Waubonsie

Carson King of the Carson King Foundation, right, congratulates Waubonsie Mental Health Center Executive Director Brian Shotwell and board secretary Elaine Armstrong Thursday, June 18, on the services the agency, based in Clarinda, provided during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Carson King Foundation donated slightly more than $10,000 to the center. The Carson King Foundation raised more than $40,000 to support four agencies across the state for the mental health services they provided families and children during the lockdown. (Herald-Journal photo by Kent Dinnebier)

After gaining popularity last fall for raising more than $3 million for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Carson King returned to his hometown of Clarinda Thursday to present another sizeable donation to the Waubonsie Mental Health Center.

King presented Waubonsie Mental Health Center Executive Director Brian Shotwell with a donation of $10,198.45 from the recently formed Carson King Foundation. The foundation raised $40,793.80 to support organizations providing mental health services to families and children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm incredibly happy. With this being our first fundraiser I wasn't expecting the support we got from it," King said.

Proceeds from the sale of limited edition "Iowa Love" T-shirts were distributed to four agencies in the state. King said he not only selected Waubonsie Mental Health Center because it was located in his hometown, but also because he was impressed with the work the center did during the coronavirus lockdown.

"I wanted to spread it as far reaching in the state as I could, so I chose Waubonsie for the western Iowa portion," King said. "I really liked that they went to teleconferencing and were able to provide resources without being in person. People were able to call in or do video chat type things. I liked that they were still able to find ways to provide their services during the lockdown. That hard work just kind of stood out."

The son of Mick and Dana King of Prairie City, King was born in Clarinda in 1995. Although the family moved away when he was only 2-years-old, King said he often returned to Clarinda to visit his grandparents who live in the community.

"I've come back multiple times to hang out with my grandparents. I used to spend a couple weeks every summer here," King said. "It's always good (to come back)."

A 2014 graduate of Prairie City-Monroe High School in Monroe, King attended Iowa State University in Ames for two years. While attending the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game played Sept. 14, 2019, in Ames, King gained notoriety when a sign he was holding asking for beer money was shown during ESPN’s “College Game Day” national coverage of the contest.

The sign went viral and King quickly became an internet sensation. Donations rolled in King pledged the money would go to the Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital. It two and one-half weeks, King had raised more than $3 million for the hospital.

Based on the success of that campaign, King realized he had an opportunity to capitalize on his popularity and help other worthwhile causes. To do so, he announced the creation of the Carson King Foundation on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2.

"I got a notion in my head to start a non-profit and keep trying to do things to help other organizations, non-profits and charities that help people," King said.

King said the giving nature of the people in Clarinda and the other cities he has lived in also helped prompt him to establish the foundation.

"Giving back, in general, was the way I was raised and was important to the different communities I was a part of. If you get a chance to help someone, you're going to do it," King said.

King said he is now working with various Hy-Vee Stores in the Iowa City and Ames areas to sell beer bratwursts during the month of June. For every bratwurst sold, King said 10 cents will go to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

"I'm also planning the first Carson King Foundation fundraiser, which will be a charity 'bags' tournament on Aug. 15 in Des Moines,” he said. “That will be the first one for us because we haven't kept any of the money we've raised so far.”

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