Supplemental Assistance for The Handicapped (SATH) will hold 16th annual fund raising radio-a-thon Monday night Oct. 22, airing from 6-10 p.m. at the studios of WRAC and WAOL in West Union.
Don Bowles, general manager of Dreamcatcher Communications, told The Times-Gazette it’s an event that both SATH and his radio stations look forward to.
“This was something that they came to me about several years ago, because other stations in the area weren’t interested in doing the telethon, but I said we’d do it because it fits perfectly with our commitment to serving the local community and helping with local causes like SATH,” he said.
Bowles said his stations will donate four hours of airtime Monday night on C-103 in addition to simulcasting on 99.5 FM. Listeners can call in pledges while listening to the radio-a-thon, or can download the new apps for both stations and listen on their iPhone or iPad. The stations serve Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
Linda Allen, executive director of SATH and KAMP Dovetail, said the radio-a-thon is more about raising awareness than just raising money.
“During the course of the radio program we’ll be interviewing parents of children with special needs, talking to volunteers and there will be people stopping by and talking about KAMP Dovetail and the impact our efforts have had on their children’s lives,” she said.
KAMP Dovetail is the biggest project SATH undertakes. It is a summer camp at Rocky Fork Lake for 300-plus children with special needs, and since the organization doesn’t receive state or federal funding, Allen said fundraisers like the radio-a-thon are vitally important.
“It’s amazing to me to find out just who is listening,” she said. “We had a truck driver from Maysville who knew he was going to lose his job, but because of hearing what we do for special needs kids and a situation in his life, he pledged 10 per cent of his unemployment compensation to us.”
Allen said that over the years, the stories of parents and caregivers struggling to provide normalcy to special needs children touches the hearts of people who otherwise had never heard of SATH or KAMP Dovetail.
“There are so many stories of parents with kids who live for that one week at camp,” she said. “All they want to do is be a normal child, and our organization makes it happen with things like a special apparatus so they can ride a horse or something special they may need so they can sleep outside in an army tent.”
She said it also takes some of the stress off a parent or caregiver, knowing that they can trust their children to the KAMP Dovetail volunteers, while at the same time allowing children with special needs to make some special memories.
Allen will be entering her 30th year with SATH in November and said it all began when her young daughter was diagnosed with juvenile-onset diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, which resulted in a visit to the Hopewell Center seeking resources or other parents she could connect with.
“I was sitting in the lobby and noticed on their bulletin board that they were looking for a fundraiser,” she said. “Our insurance wasn’t covering all the needles and supplies that my daughter needed, so a few weeks later I decided to apply for the job and when I went in for the interview, five minutes into it John Gossett told me the job was mine because I could communicate and had passion for it because of my little girl.”
Allen believed that since it was only a part-time job, she was just going to do some fundraising for different programs, but not long afterward she quit her position as a preschool teacher in Lynchburg to become SATH’s full-time fundraiser.
“When I started, there were only about 30 children going to KAMP Dovetail, and it was a day camp program,” she said. “I wanted to help more and do more, and though I had a child with a disability, her’s was nothing compared with the disabilities I was seeing as I got more involved with the organization, and I just fell in love with trying to help them.”
To make a pledge on the air, listeners can call 1-800-326-9722 or 937-544-9722 during the Monday night radio-a-thon, or they can stop by the station at the corner of Walnut and East Main streets in West Union. All proceeds from the radio-a-thon will benefit SATH and KAMP Dovetail.
“When the radio-a-thon is over, the thing that I want to see most accomplished is the awareness of what we do,” she said. “If someone has a special needs child and they want to get involved, or they need some sort of assistance from us, I want them to know that there are exciting possibilities and opportunities for their children.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.