Gearing up for annual radio-telethon March 30


The Highland County Society for Children and Adults served nearly 500 clients during its most recent fiscal year, fielding more than 750 requests and supplying help with items ranging from prescriptions to lift chairs to dental work – all for local residents.

This year’s Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon to support the society – the 44th annual radio-telethon – is scheduled for next Wednesday, March 30.

The event is hosted by the Rotary Clubs in Hillsboro and Greenfield. The radio-telethon is named in memory of Ernie Blankenship, the late sports broadcaster who for nearly four decades was the heart and soul of the radio-telethon, and was also fundraiser-in-chief year-round. The Blankenship family remains active in the society and the radio-telethon.

At the Hillsboro Rotary Club meeting Tuesday, Rotarian Rocky Coss discussed this year’s poster child, the history of the society and the radio-telethon, and the unique status of the society as an organization where every dollar raised stays local.

As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, this year’s poster child is Emily Davis, a third-grader at Peebles Elementary who lives with her grandfather, Doug Chaney, near Sinking Spring. Emily will turn 10 years old in conjunction with this year’s radio-telethon, and she is asking that in lieu of presents, donations be made to the radio-telethon or to her favorite organization, the Humane Society.

Emily was born with Riley-Day syndrome. According to her aunt, Pam Chaney, Emily can’t take any food or drink orally, can’t feel pain or temperature change, has dry eyes she and has to put drops in every two hours when she’s awake, and has repeated occurrences of pneumonia. In fact, Chaney said, this was the first winter Davis has not had pneumonia.

Coss noted Tuesday, though, that the youngster was recently hospitalized again because of her dry eyes condition. He described her as a “nice young lady who has persevered through difficult times.”

Coss leads Hillsboro Rotary’s efforts for the radio-telethon, and his wife, Gayle, is the society’s director. Coss provided statistics compiled by his wife over the course of the 2015-15 fiscal year, which showed the society providing 25 lift chairs, 27 ramps, 48 pairs of glasses, 31 dental appointments, and 426 prescriptions, among several other medical-related items.

Coss said that while the society looks at income as one factor in determining who to assist, “you don’t have to be unemployed and broke to get help.”

Coss said that when he travels and discusses the society with individuals outside the area, “people are amazed that we have a community of this size that can do this.”

Last year, the radio-telethon raised $104,000 from 264 donors, and since its inception in 1973 it has netted nearly $3.4 million.

Several items, most of them sports-related, are auctioned during each year’s event. This year those items will include a one-year membership to the YMCA, an autographed shirt and hat from Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, autographed baseballs from retired stars Cesar Geronimo, Bert Campaneris, Ron Oester and Rollie Fingers, an autographed photo of Pete Rose slugging his 4,191st hit, which tied Ty Cobb’s record, a photograph of the “Great Eight” starting lineup of the Big Red Machine, autographed by each of the players, and an autographed photo of Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer being doused with Gatorade.

The radio-telethon, co-hosted by Rick Williams and Herb Day, will be broadcast live from 6 to 9:15 p.m. on March 30, this year from the Merchants Bank main office in Hillsboro on the local Time Warner community access channel, and on WSRW 101.5 FM and WSRW AM 1590. In Greenfield, it will be broadcast from 6-9 p.m. from the McClain High School Media Room on the Time Warner community access channel along with periodic broadcasts on WVNU FM 97.5.

From 6-9:15 p.m., Rotarians will take pledges by telephone as well as in person for those who come to the bank during the broadcast, where there is a typically festive atmosphere. Pledges can be made during the telethon by calling 393-1993. Checks can be dropped off at any local bank or mailed to the society at P.O. Box 258, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.

A live broadcast of the event will be streamed on the web and can be accessed by logging on at

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

Radio-telethon co-host Herb Day, left, interviews Gayle Coss, director of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, at last year’s event at NCB. This year’s radio-telethon is set for Wednesday, March 30, at Merchants National Bank. co-host Herb Day, left, interviews Gayle Coss, director of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, at last year’s event at NCB. This year’s radio-telethon is set for Wednesday, March 30, at Merchants National Bank.
Society is unique among similar organizations

By Gary Abernathy

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