Planning is underway for the 47th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio-Telethon for the benefit of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, and Judge Rocky Coss, who helps coordinate the event, said it’s “always a special time.”
The event, hosted by the Hillsboro and Greenfield rotary clubs on Wednesday, March 27, will be broadcast live from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. from the Merchants National Bank main office in Hillsboro on the local community access channel of the Spectrum Cable System, and on WSRW 101.5 FM, WSRW AM 1590 and iHeart radio, according to a press release from the society.
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 the Spectrum Cable System along with periodic live broadcasts on radio station WVNU FM 97.5.
Coss said the charity is “really one of the most unique in the country in that all the money raised is used locally” to help children and adults with medical needs not covered by private insurance or public agencies.
The two rotary clubs raised more than $102,000 during last year’s event, the release said. All proceeds 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, the press release said. 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 percent of its revenue was being paid to the national Easter Seal Society for advertising and other national expenses, according to the release.
“The board felt that it should use as much of the donation funds as possible to directly benefit county residents,” the release said.
Over the past several years, administrative costs have averaged approximately 10 percent of the annual budget, which is extremely low for non-profit charitable groups, according to the release. 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 and raised $1,715, according to the release. During the past 46 years, the two rotary clubs have raised more than $3.6 million dollars for the society. Almost all of the society’s funds are raised through the event.
Coss said the radio-telethon each year honors the late Ernie Blankenship, who was “so vital” to the event in its early years. Blankenship, a longtime local radio personality, hosted the event for years.
“He’s certainly missed,” Coss said.
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 during the first hour of the broadcast, the release said. Any local group or business is welcome to make presentations in person on the air.
The hosts of this year’s Hillsboro broadcast will again be Rick Williams and Herb Day. 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 by Terry Mikkelsen, who has provided camera and technology services for the local community access station broadcast for the past several years. Mikkelsen is assisted by Ron Hennison Jr. Those who wish to watch the live stream on the internet can view it at www.tech-t.com/telethon.
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 937-393-1993 in Hillsboro and 937-981-7731 in Greenfield.
“Any donation, no matter the amount, will be appreciated,” the release said.
Checks payable to HCCSA can be dropped off at any local bank or mailed to the society at P.O. Box 258, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
When asked how much he hopes this year’s event will raise, Coss said organizers always hope the event does as well as it did the previous year, but, “I never like to set a goal… We just take the money we get and we’ll spend it as best we can.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.