Thanks to the generosity of Highland County’s people, businesses and civic organizations, nearly $94,000 was raised Wednesday during the 45th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon to benefit the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, with more expected to arrive in the next few days.
The dual events in Hillsboro and Greenfield are sponsored by the respective Rotary Clubs in those communities. The Hillsboro event was held at US Bank, while Greenfield’s took place at McClain High School.
Wednesday’s contributions and pledges helped the society top the $3.5 million mark in total fundraising since the radio-telethon’s inception in 1973.
The latest count at the close of the event showed total donations at $93,688, but Rocky Coss, the common pleas judge and Hillsboro Rotarian who leads the Hillsboro and Greenfield Rotary clubs’ fundraising efforts, said he expected more donations by the end of the week, possibly enough to again push the total past the $100,000 mark where it has been the past couple of years.
The total raised represents an impressive fundraising accomplishment for a small county and for an organization completely dependent on local support. Each year, the event raises contributions large and small to fund a unique organization that provides assistance with medical needs to Highland County residents.
Among the larger contributions Wednesday were $15,000 from the Cassner Foundation, $10,000 from Merchants Bank and its employees, $5,000 from the Eagles, $3,500 from NCB Bank and $3,000 from US Bank, where the event was held this year. The annual chili supper in support of the telethon netted more than $2,100.
Auction items were popular, including:
• Black baseball bat autographed by George Foster, member of the Big Red Machine and 1977 MVP, donated by Lee Koogler, won by Jenny Hilterbran for $250.
• Commemorative baseball from the first game played at Great American Ball Park on March 31, 2003 and small framed photo of stadium donated by Keith Chambers, won by Donnie Barrera for $50.
• Mini Ohio State football signed by James Laurinaitis, OSU All American linebacker and former player for NFL St. Louis Rams, donated by Dan Pearce, won by Rocky Coss for $50.
• Professionally-framed photo of Pete Rose getting his 4,191st hit at Wrigley Field, autographed by Pete Rose, donated by Rocky Coss, won by Dan Pearce for $200.
• Eight tickets to a May baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees, donated by John Barney and won by David McKenna and Lesia Langston-McKenna for $500.
• One year membership at the Highland County Branch of the YMCA, donated by the YMCA and won by Darrell Wilson for $300.
But throughout the evening, funds came from contributions ranging from $5 or $10 to $100, $200, $500 and so on, including money raised by students at their schools and other such endeavors.
The evening began at 6 p.m. with contributions from the Blankenship family in memory of the well-known longtime sports broadcaster who passed away in 2013 after devoting the better part of four decades making the radio-telethon a success.
Poster child Gracin Murarescu, a kindergarten student at New Vienna Elementary School, was on hand with his family, and the youngster charmed attendees as he was showered with attention.
Emcees Herb Day and Rick Williams interviewed a steady line of contributors who showed up to support the cause.
Visit timesgazette.com later Thursday for video coverage and more photos from Wednesday’s event, and see Friday’s Times-Gazette for a recap from the radio-telethon.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.