March 26 event first since Blankenship’s passing; former poster kids invited

Last updated: March 03. 2014 1:58PM - 988 Views

Ernie Blankenship
Ernie Blankenship
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The Hillsboro and Greenfield Rotary Clubs will host the 42nd annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults on Wednesday, March 26th.

The event will be broadcast live from 6 p.m. until 9:15 p.m. from the main branch of US Bank in Hillsboro on the local community access channel of the Time Warner Cable System, and on Clear Channel radio station WCHO FM 105.5 and WSRW AM 1590.

In Greenfield, the event will be broadcast from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. from the McClain High School Auditorium on the local community access channel of Time Warner Cable System along with periodic broadcasts on radio station WVNU FM 97.5.

The two Rotary Clubs raised $137,746 during the 2013 event, all of which is used by the Society to provide assistance and services to Highland County children and adults who have extraordinary expenses for necessary medical treatment, transportation, equipment and other health care devices.

It works in conjunction with other local government and private agencies to provide financial assistance to Highland County residents who have medical expenses not covered by insurance or other programs.

The Society is a very unique organization, as described in a press release. It was established as a local branch of the Easter Seal Society in 1948. Rotary Club members were involved in the founding of the organization and numerous Rotarians have served on its board of trustees.

In 1983 with support of the two Rotary Clubs, the board of trustees decided to become an independent countywide organization because approximately 38 percent of its revenue was paid to the national Easter Seal Society for advertising and other national expenses.

The board felt that it should use as much of the donations as possible for direct benefit of county residents. Over the past several years, administrative costs have averaged approximately 8 percent of the annual budget, which is extremely low for non-profit charitable groups. Many local health providers work closely with the Society and provide services at a reduced cost to the patients receiving financial assistance.

The first radio-telethon was held in 1973 at the former Hillsboro Bank office in Hillsboro and raised $1,715. During the past 41 years, the two Rotary Clubs have raised over $3 million for the Society. Almost all of the Society’s funds are raised through this event. The Society has seen an increase in financial need for medical expenses by many local families in the past three years, and anticipates this will continue

Many school classes, youth groups and other local service groups will be conducting fundraising activities for the Society and will have representatives present during the evening to present the proceeds to the Society. Any local group or business is welcome to make their presentation in person on the air.

This is the first telethon to be held since the death of Ernie Blankenship, the longtime emcee and chief fundraiser for the event. His family has been invited to kick off the broadcast in Hillsboro shortly after 6 p.m. As was Blankenship’s practice, the first hour of the broadcast in Hillsboro will feature students from county schools and youth organizations who have raised funds for the event.

Hillsboro Rotarian Rick Williams will assume the emcee duties in Hillsboro and will be assisted by other Hillsboro Rotarians.

Instead of having a new poster child for the campaign, the Society has invited all past poster children and their families to gather at US Bank at 7 p.m. to be recognized. They have also been invited to attend the annual Chili Dinner being held for the benefit of the Society on Thursday, March 6th at the Old Pondo Banquet Center.

For the first time, the Hillsboro portion of the radio-telethon will be live streamed on the internet thanks to Terry Mikkelsen, who has provided the camera and technology services for the local community access station broadcast for the past several years assisted by Ron Hennison, Jr. Persons who wish to watch the live stream on the web can do so by logging on at www.tech-t.com/telethon.

From 6-9:15 p.m., Rotarians will take pledges by telephone or in person for those who come to the bank during the broadcast. Pledges can be made during the telethon by calling 393-4246. Society officials say that any donation, no matter the amount, will be appreciated. Checks can be dropped off at any local bank or mailed to the Society at P.O. Box 258, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.

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