More than 500 individual performers and 220 dedicated volunteers worked together to raise just over $200,000 during the 34th Annual Carbon-Tamaqua American Cancer Society Telethon, held at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe this past weekend. This year's total beat last year's by more than $7,000.

"We asked people to dig into their pockets, and they did," said Joe Krushinsky, host and telethon committee chairman. "From $1 to thousands of dollars."

"Despite looking effortless, the dedication of all our volunteers requires a lot of planning, hard work and dedication," said telethon producer George Taylor.

A few top donations consisted of Hiles Brothers, who donated $2,500 and Air Products and Kovatch, who both donated $5,000. Top event fundraisers were Zoostock, which raised $22,000, and ACS Chinese Auction, which raised a record $27,700.

In addition to being aired Saturday and Sunday on Blue Ridge and Service Electric television, visitors from around the world were able to watch the telethon live on the telethon's website (CancerTelethon.org). This was the first time the telethon was streamed live over Internet. Social media and streaming video volunteers pointed out that people out of the local coverage area had contacted them online to thank them for providing live coverage of the telethon over the Internet.

During the telethon, Nan Cressley of Lehighton, and Peggy Sue O'Donnell, Jim Thorpe, were each given a courage award for their fight with cancer.

"This is a great thing these people (telethon volunteers) do here," stated O'Donnell, who was diagnosed with head and neck cancer last May. "There is more and more cancer cropping up throughout our county."

"It is beatable. If you are diagnosed don't be afraid, listen to your doctors and take care of yourself," added O'Donnell. "No one is going to do it but you."

O'Donnell said she was cancer free as of September last year.

Cressley, who survived three types of cancers, stressed early dedication.

"Get checked regularly," said Cressley. "Trust your gut feeling even if you think it might be nothing."

"These volunteers are showing us courage and support," stressed O'Donnell and Cressley.

"A lot of things came together this year to make it such a great event," added Taylor, who pointed out that many performers and volunteers did things on their own to help the telethon.

Taylor founded the telethon in 1980 at the Tamaqua High School.

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.

Both Taylor and Krushinsky stressed that volunteers are already planning next year's 35th annual telethon.

"We want next year to be extra special," said Taylor. "We can't unless more people get involved."

Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Taylor at (570) 668-4451.

Krushinsky and Taylor expressed the telethon committee's appreciation to all the sponsors, contributors, performers, volunteers and community organizations that came together to make the telethon a success.

Krushinsky, pointing out the purpose of the telethon, described the event as, "People you know helping people you know."