On Saturday and Sunday, the annual telethon of the Tamaqua-Carbon Chapter of American Cancer Society will be presented from Penn's Peak on Blue Ridge Communications TV 13.

The telethon is always interesting for a number of reasons.

The event inlcudes all types of entertainment, most of it local, including professional bands, high school groups, choruses, dance groups, civic organizations,and individuals.

Second, you'll be educated about cancer and the Cancer Society. You'll hear about some of the programs of the ACS. The great thing about the telethon is all the money raised is used locally to help cancer patients.

Finally, and most important, you'll hear from cancer patients themselves. Four people will receive "Courage Awards."

They are:

Ÿ Nancy Betz of Hometown.

Ÿ Nick Hawkey of Little Gap.

Ÿ Heidi Mann of Jim Thorpe.

Ÿ Geralyn "Gerry" Andrews of Lehighton.

The presentations will occur between 7 and 8:15 p.m. Sunday.

It's not just a matter of handing recipients a plaque.

They'll explain what cancer is, how it affects them, how modern technology and good doctors helped them fight the dreaded disease, and how attitude, friends and family play such key roles. You'll see four grateful people; grateful for their family, for their friends, for their success in battling the cancer, and especially grateful to be alive.

They're recipients of "Courage Awards" for good reason all of them have displayed tremendous courage and have overcome some drastic setbacks.

Cancer can strike any of us. Virtually all of us know someone who has had to endure the pain and uncertainty of this dreaded condition.

Listening to Nancy, Nick, Heidi and Gerry is inspiring and educational. They fought individual battles. They will share with us not only their successes, but the heartache and temporary disappointments they endured and overcame.

Nancy, for example, had cancer attack her four times. Yet she doesn't feel sorry for herself. She has an agenda she wants to live to be 95.

All of us get down sometimes, thinking about our problems and our hard times. Listen to the problems these four people had. The last thing they'll ask for is a pity party.

This is the 35th year of the telethon. For three and a half decades, it has not only endured but has grown.

You'll see people giving pledges as individuals.

There will be presenters who raised money as part of a group during the year specifically for this event.

It's an amazing testament to how the local community can and does come together.

We hear complaints that there isn't much on TV anymore.

For this one weekend, there is plenty to watch. It's the ACS telethon.

Maybe, you might even decide to help the cause.

By RON GOWER

rgower@ptd.net