More than 430 individual performers and about 230 dedicated volunteers combined their talents over the weekend to help the Carbon-Tamaqua unit of the American Cancer Society succeed in beating last year's total during this year's two-day telethon held at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe.
Joe Krushinsky, host and telethon committee chairman, announced that this year's telethon resulted in $193,021 worth of pledges, which is $5,000 over last year's tally.
"A lot of things came together this year to make it such a great event," said George Taylor, telethon producer. Taylor pointed out the great turnout of volunteers, high amount of contributors, a special variety of new talent and the increase in Internet donations.
"This was a record year for online donations," said Taylor. "Everybody came through."
Volunteer Conrad Flynn mentioned that the telethon, which aired on both Blue Ridge Communications TV-13 and Service Electric, was made better by the increased social media and Internet traffic surrounding the event.
During the telethon, Patrice Kohan of Palmerton and Wendi Rigler of Tamaqua were both presented the ACS Courage Award.
There was special recognition given to a group of "survivors," individuals who had contracted cancer, had treatment, and are now "free" of the illness.
Two notable donation presentations were $22,000, which was raised from the 2011 Zoostock event in Lansford, and $20,900, which was raised during the annual ACS Chinese Auction held at the Lakeside Ballroom in Barnesville.
Coaldale resident Sandy Wychulis, a 27-year volunteer, said, "My husband and myself believe in the ACS and do as much as we can for this great organization."
Krushinsky, who has volunteered with the telethon since its inception in 1980, makes annual treks from Maryland back to his native Tamaqua each year for the event. He also presented a taped interview of Brandon Taylor, a Tamaqua resident who is currently working for a newspaper in China. Brandon is the son of producer George Taylor, who founded the telethon in 1980 at the Tamaqua High School.
"We'll start working on next year's telethon in about two weeks," Krushinsky added, "and we're looking for organizations to partner with. We have lots of ideas and projects we'd like to see done but we, as a telethon committee, can't do it. We invite anyone interested in joining us and being a part of next year's telethon, we'd like to hear from you."
He said anyone interested in volunteering may contact Taylor at (570) 668-4451.
Nancy Porambo, Jim Thorpe, who volunteered her time taking pledges, stated, "Every donation, no matter how small, was greatly appreciated."
Sue Urban, Jim Thorpe, who also volunteered her time on the phones, said, "I used to work in a hospital and see how the ACS helps provide hope to many of the patients affected with cancer. I love to see the relief in their faces."
Long time volunteer Lisa Hiles of Summit Hill said that more youth were involved with volunteering and performances this year.
"Most didn't see this as community service or work. It was simply fun to them," said Hiles.
"This year's event provided a great variety of talent involving coal region culture and entertainment," said Kathy Dombrosky, a 15-year volunteer from Andreas.
"Keeping all the numbers can be challenging, but it is definitely worth it when we figure out the tally," said volunteer Donna Valent, who spent most of the time in a little room tallying donations with other volunteers.
Ann Marie Calabrese of Cool Breeze Imaging, who has volunteered since 1988, and Maureen Donovan, host and 20 year volunteer, were happy to see all the new, younger volunteers who spent time helping during the telethon. Calabrese also stressed her love of the talented ukulele performers.
Thirty-two year volunteer Bud Wychulis pointed out that everyone is affected by cancer in one way or another.
"Helping the ACS is simply the right thing to do," Wychulis said.
Krushinsky and Taylor expressed their appreciation to all the sponsors, contributors, performers, volunteers and community organizations that came together to make this telethon a great success.
"People you know helping people you know," Krushinsky added.