Telethon Fundraiser No. One: $14,131,640.00! April 30, 2014 4:39 PM - Variety International

Not a bad number; the total of monies raised from the four 2014 Telethons: Buffalo/Western N.Y., ($1,102,337); Iowa, ($4,101,023); Vancouver including the entire province of British Columbia ($6,671,138); and Israel ($2,257,142 US).

2014 was Buffalo’s 52nd annual Telethon. It was started by the late Dr. Robert Warner, the late Jimmy Hayes, the late Mickey Ellis, and Tom Fenno, who was Chief Barker of Tent 7 in 1962. The 1st Telethon raised in excess of $80,000 which went to the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, part of the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Today, in addition to the Rehabilitation Center, monies go to the Variety Pharmacy at Children’s Hospital (part of Tent 7’s $1.5 Million commitment) as well as 25 other Children’s Agencies in Western N.Y. Buffalo Tent 7 was chartered in 1934 and the Telethon continues to broadcast live on WKBW-HDTV.

2014 Show of Hearts Telethon – Vancouver, including the entire province of British Columbia, ($6,671,138) Since 1965, Variety – The Children’s Charity of BC has raised over $170 million to help families with children who have special needs. Last year, the charity helped fund therapies, programs, transportation, specialized equipment and other forms of support for 1,277 families and 32 organizations across the province.

Iowa’s first Telethon was held in 1975 and has raised $95 million in total since then. Variety of Iowa has provided funding for capital projects, essential medical equipment and special programs to more than 300 charities throughout Iowa and neighboring states. In addition, it has provided more than 425 Variety Vans that provide transportation to children across the state.

Variety of Israel’s annual Telethon is “Dancing for the Golden Children”, it’s major event of the year.

If that number above is an indication of the power of television – WOW! And that’s what telethons are all about. An interesting exercise would be to total all monies raised by telethons in all locations throughout all the years in both the USA and Canada. This is a challenge! One of the new bright red Variety International T-shirts can be yours if you come up with this number!! Telethons have been held in a myriad of cities running from 4-6 hours to 24. St. Louis (starting in 1967, and beginning in 1984 was The Sammy Davis and Friends telethon for 6 years); Seattle (for 20 years from 1969-1989); Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Kansas City were all started by Variety International’s Tom Fenno, with tremendous help from Monty Hall, who appeared countless of times at the Telethons at no charge to Variety. In Canada, Toronto and Winnipeg were Telethon cities, Monty appearing in Toronto almost annually and returning to his home town for special occasion Telethons. Fenno went to Winnipeg in the early 1980’s to lend his expertise, contacts and ideas to that city’s Variety executive committee, which included Peter Liba, General Manager of the TV station CKND. Tom continued to return to ‘land of the cold’ for the next 4 years, notwithstanding the temperature was –40.