WORTHINGTON — In the midst of the global pandemic, there are a few things in life that cannot be ignored, like the need to exercise and focus on health, and to help those who don’t have the means to join a fitness club or pay for youth programming.

Hence, the 35th annual YMCA Cruise Dinner is going virtual this year to meet its fundraising goal and provide scholarships for everything from memberships to summer T-ball programming.

Like last year, the goal is to raise $85,000. Worthington Area YMCA Executive Director and CEO Meredith Daley said fundraising began with the July 1 kick-off of the Strong Kids Campaign.

“We’re already working toward that goal and hope to secure the rest of the funds,” she said. “We are well on our way.”

From July 1-15, the YMCA reached out to its major donors and local businesses seeking contributions for the annual campaign, with the Friends Campaign ramping up on Wednesday and continuing through Aug. 12.

The advance fundraising is a reverse course for the YMCA, which has always kickstarted the Strong Kids Campaign on the evening of the Cruise Dinner. This year, Daley said those attending the virtual event will get an update on fundraising progress, and the hope is they can reach the goal during the online program, which begins at 6 p.m. Aug. 14.

“With everything going on with COVID, we do anticipate the need for more scholarships for our children and families … that are going to need additional assistance with memberships and with the programs they want to enroll in,” she said.

The Aug. 14 online event will be a condensed version of the Cruise Dinner, while still creating that opportunity to engage with the community, Daley shared.

“What it means is we still have our event sponsors and table sponsors,” she said. The virtual event will include pre-recorded video and information about the local YMCA, followed by a live portion that will include promotion of the silent auction items, announcement of the raffle winners and details about the YMCA’s funding needs.

While each table sponsor and event sponsor will receive one raffle ticket, the YMCA is making an additional 99 raffle tickets available for purchase at $100 each. All raffle ticket holders will have the chance to win one of four cash prizes, the grand prize being the choice of a vacation valued at $2,000 or $1,500 in cash.

Thus far, Daley said they have received nearly 90 items for the silent auction. The selection includes gift cards and items to experiences — among them being a Black Hills cabin stay, Ferrari Fantasy, New Orleans Jazz & Dining, NASCAR Driver for a Day, Tennessee Whiskey Adventure and Dinner in the Wild.

People will be able to start bidding on silent auction items on Monday, with the online auction closing the evening of Aug. 14. The silent auction is open to anyone and can be viewed at cruise2020.givesmart.com. At this same website, people are welcome to make a donation to the Worthington Area YMCA or purchase a raffle ticket.

Daley said the silent auction is set up so that if a person gets outbid on an item, they will receive an email notification to let them know. If they’d like, they can go back in and increase their bid.

“We hope to get some friendly banter going back and forth and people bidding against each other,” she added. “We’re excited to see where it will go.”

As part of the virtual Cruise Dinner, Daley said they will also continue with the wine pull. People may purchase a bottle of wine, and then stop by the YMCA after the event to pick up their bottle.

All silent auction items will be available for pick-up at the Y on Aug. 17.

“Community members have been really supportive. I just can’t express enough gratitude for our supporters,” said Daley. “We know that it’s an unconventional year. We encourage people to celebrate it — have a watch party within appropriate social distancing.

“We’re looking forward to a great night,” she added. “Hopefully next year we’ll be able to get back to holding an in-person event.”