35th cancer telethon sets record
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS American Cancer Society telethon committee members include, front, from left, Mary Ann Dulaney, Lisa Hiles, Kathy Dombrosky, Kathryn Hofherr, Cary Sinclair and Maureen Donovan; and back, telethon producer George Taylor, chairman Joe Krushinksy, Rick Peters, Bud Wychulis, Ann Marie Calabrese and Lori Kane. At the conclusion of the 35th anniversary event, the telethon brought in a record $213,330 in pledges.
Thanks in part to an anonymous donor who gave $10,000 in the waning moments of this weekend's American Cancer Society telethon, a record $213,330 was received in pledges.
This topped the record set last year of $212,911.
This was the 35th year for the telethon, the key fundraising event of the Carbon-Tamaqua Chapter of the ACS. It was staged at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe and broadcast live by Blue Ridge Communications TV-13.
Among those volunteers working at the event were two people who have been with the telethon since its inception, George Taylor, who served as director, and Joe Krushinsky, who emceed the event.
Taylor founded the telethon in 1979 as a high school event, while a teacher at Tamaqua Area High School. At that time, it was broadcast from the high school.
Krushinsky, who now lives in Maryland but returns every year for it, was the master of ceremonies.
Danny Farole of Nesquehoning has been singing and playing his guitar at all 35 telethons. Sunday night was special for him, as his two grandsons, Anthony Farole of Lehighton, a Penn State University student, and Dominic Farole of Harrisburg, also performed
"I'm glad these two guys want to do it now," said Farole. "They want to do it to honor me and the American Cancer Society."
The telethon began at noon on Saturday and continued for 12 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. Pledges flowed in throughout the event, but the crescendo happened Sunday night.
A highlight was the presentation of Courage Awards to four people who have bravely battled cancer.
This began a spirited submission of pledges by callers, Internet users, and people who presented checks in person.
In the 22nd hour of the event, it was announced that an individual donor, a business person who wanted to remain anonymous, was matching all donations of $50 and $100, up to a total of $10,000, for a one-hour period.
Also spiking the total at the end was the presentation of two large contributions: One totaling in excess of $29,000 that was raised from a Chinese auction event held by the ACS, and $23,000 presented by Zoo-stock 2013.
Maureen Donovan, a longtime volunteer at the telethons, made presentations to the four Courage Award recipients:
• Nancy Betz of Hometown, who battled breast cancer four times.
• Nick Hawkey of Little Gap, who survived prostate cancer.
• Heidi Mann of Jim Thorpe, who had two bouts with breast cancer.
• Geralyn "Gerry" Andrews, of East Penn Township, who also won two rounds against breast cancer.
When Mann received the award she was accompanied by her granddaughters, Hallie, 1, and Hannah, 4. When Hannah saw herself on the monitor while Mann was being interviewed, she took advantage of the 30 seconds of fame, making faces, doing gestures with her arms, and in general, enjoying the attention.
Numerous survivors made cameo appearances. Among them was Sarah Valentine of Nesquehoning, who had neuroblastoma, a rare, usually fatal, childhood cancer when she was just 3 years old.
She was accompanied by her mother, Karen, of Quakake, who told how the family sold its home to pay medical expenses. The ACS helped pay for gasoline for trips for treatment and lodging at the hospital where Sarah had stayed.
Now, 25 years later, Valentine works in health care and plans to get married in November.
"She's a nurse," said her mom tearfully to interviewer Bud Wychulis, "and she wasn't even supposed to survive this."
Many of the volunteers for the telethon have been a part of the production for years.
Co-host Kim Bell volunteered for her 24th telethon.
Angela Nardini has sung at the past 29 events. She read some pledges last night, but couldn't perform because of laryngitis.
One of the things which helps with the success of the telethon is the varied entertainment. Dozens of acts perform, ranging from professional bands to solo acts to school and church groups.
Viewers were treated to all genres of music pop, country, rock, blues as well as dance acts.