March 29 radio-telethon will build on $3.5 million raised since 1973


Nearly $3.5 million has been raised since the radio-telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults began back in 1973, with a high of more than $217,000 raised in 2007.

The Hillsboro and Greenfield Rotary Clubs will host the 45th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults on Wednesday, March 29. The event will be broadcast live from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. from the US Bank main office in Hillsboro on the local community access channel of the Time Warner Cable System, and on WSRW 101.5 and WSRW AM 1590.

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

The telethon was named for Blankenship in 2013 because of the broadcaster’s annual hosting duties for the event and his tireless year-round efforts to lead the fundraising for the cause. After his passing it became a memorial in his honor in 2014.

After the economic downturn in 2008, fundraising for the telethon dropped off, with a recent-year low of about $104,000 in 2015. But last year saw a slight bounce-back, with nearly $106,000 raised. Still, raising more than $100,000 a year is a significant accomplishment considering its first years in the early 1970s saw totals of around just $2,000 to $3,000.

According to a press release, all funds are 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 unique organization. It was originally established as a local branch of the Easter Seal Society in 1950. 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% of its revenue was being 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% 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 $1,715.00. During the past 44 years, the two Rotary Clubs have raised nearly three and a half million dollars 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 year, Herb Day will again join Hillsboro Rotary Club President Rick Williams as a co-host of the event. The first hour of the broadcast in Hillsboro will feature students from county schools and youth organizations who have raised funds for the event.

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

From 6-9 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 393-1993. 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.

The following fundraising totals and radio-telethon timeless were supplied by Rocky Coss, the Highland County common pleas judge who leads Hillsboro Rotary’s fundraising efforts and whose wife, Gayle, has been the Society’s executive secretary since 2005.

Rotary Radio/Telethon Fundraising Results

1973 $1,715

1974 $2,933

1975 $3,171

1976 $6,474

1977 $9,282

1978 $7,664

1979 $8,087

1980 $7,234

1981 $7,868

1982 $7,365

1983 $10,237

1984 $12,355

1985 $14,375

1986 $17,385

1987 $22,809

1988 $27,130

1989 $33,743

1990 $35,650

1991 $35,739

1992 $40,100

1993 $49,900

1994 $48,415

1995 $52,635

1996 $64,100

1997 $107,170

1998 $103,929

1999 $119,075

2000 $128,248

2001 $172,000

2002 $163,278

2003 $175,500

2004 $146,000

2005 $157,000

2006 $202,137

2007 $217,043

2008 $200,025

2009 $144,700

2010 $147,000

2011 $120,000

2012 $143,110

2013 $137,746

2014 $143,715

2015 $103,964

2016 $105,866

Total $3,463,872

Highland County Society For Children And Adults Historical Timeline

November 13, 1950

The Farm and Community Council hosted a meeting at the Highland County Court House to organize a local group to work with The Ohio Easter Seal Society to help crippled children. Representatives of various organizations including Rotary Clubs attended. 51 persons became charter members of the Highland County Society for Crippled Children. A constitution and by-laws were adopted.

First Officers and Organizations represented:

President: W.D. Crosley, Health Council

Vice President: Rev. Ed Bousman, Presbyterian Church

Secretary: Mrs. Ferry Roberts, Advisory Council

Treasurer: James L. Byrd, Rotary Club

Easter Seals: Mrs. Doris Smith, Home and Community Council

Programs: Dorothy Winters, County Health Nurse

Viola Grandy, County Health Nurse

Membership: Mrs. George Lucas, Home & Community Council

Publicity: Harold Powell, Rotary Club

Freida Simpkins, Civic Club


Fundraising included Lily Parade flower sales by Boy Scouts, bake sales, mail campaign, card party, food sales. Rotary shared expense with society on several equipment purchases for crippled children.

October 12, 1954

Name was changed to Highland County Society for Crippled Children and Adults as part of a new constitution suggested by the Ohio Easter Seal Society. Board members included Hillsboro Rotarians James Byrd, Dr. Clifford Foor, Darrell Hottle, Dr. Carl Sites and James Hapner.

November 25, 1957

Helen Lowell becomes the “File Clerk” to maintain records regarding persons assisted at $5.00 per month.

January 14, 1959

Helen Lowell hired as the first “Executive Secretary at a salary of $30.00 per month.

April 7-8, 1973

First Radio-Telethon held at Hillsboro Bank & Savings in conjunction with National Easter Seal Society Telethon.

February 21, 1978

Name changed to Highland County Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children and Adults to conform to national and state trends as Easter Seals was helping adults as well as children.

March 27, 1979

Betty Collins hired as new Executive Secretary.

August 20, 1981

Incorporated as an Ohio Non-Profit Corporation as Highland County Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc.


Severed ties with Easter Seal Society to become independent organization.

July 26, 1993

Name changed to Highland County Society for Children and Adults, Inc.


Nina Wharton hired as Executive Secretary.

June 1, 2005

Gayle Coss hired as Executive Secretary.

Shown at a previous radio-telethon are emcees Rick Williams, left, and Herb Day, center, along with Rocky Coss, the common pleas judge who leads Hillsboro Rotary’s fundraising efforts. at a previous radio-telethon are emcees Rick Williams, left, and Herb Day, center, along with Rocky Coss, the common pleas judge who leads Hillsboro Rotary’s fundraising efforts.
Annual HCSCA radio-telethon March 29

The Times-Gazette

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