Thunder in the Valley donating more than $44,000 this year

In March, for only the second time in 17 years, one of the two days of the Thunder in the Valley air show at the Columbus Airport had to be canceled.

Still, the popular, annual non-profit event will be dividing $37,000 among Chattahoochee Valley youth organizations and charities at a ceremony August 4.

That is $12,000 more than last year.

In explaining how that is possible, Robert Kemp, the community relations chairman for Thunder in the Valley, said the media played a role in the spring by informing people that there was a strong possibility of thunderstorms on Sunday.

"Because of those reports, we had one of our better crowds, more than 15,000 people coming through the gates on Saturday. People didn't want to miss the show," Kemp said.

He said another reason is that the event's committee knows how to "squeeze a dollar," that members want to be good stewards of the money.

Money kept in reserve guarantees that there will be a show in 2015 on March 21 and March 22.

Since the first show in 1997, Thunder in the Valley had donated more than $700,000.

In addition to the $37,000, this year, $7,500 in contributions and tickets were also given to 13 youth organizations and 200 soldiers during the show, bringing the total contribution of Thunder in the Valley to $44,500.

Kemp said the organizations that will receive checks on Monday were selected from a group of applicants. Thunder in the Valley only chooses a few so the ones receiving funds get a meaningful amount.

Those getting funds are the Ann Elizabeth Shepherd Home, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Chattahoochee Valley, Chattahoochee Council of Boy Scouts of America, Rising Star Program, Russell County Child Advocacy Center, Storybook Farm, The Literacy Alliance and the Young Eagles.

Thunder in the Valley coordinator Phaedra Childers said in an news release that though it was disappointing that thunderstorms canceled Sunday's events that the show was a financial success compared to 2013.

"The air show committee is grateful to the support of our sponsors and spectators, and the participation of our devoted volunteers," Childers said.

The lineup of air show performers and aircraft static displays for 2015 will be announced in January.