Before 2020 Highland County Society for Children and Adults Poster Child Elisha Duncan was born, her mother, Kim O’Madden, had been told her third child would have Down syndrome. If that wasn’t enough, after she was born O’Madden learned her daughter had a closed intestine and a heart condition.
Now 8 years old, Duncan seems a perfect fit as the poster child for the 48th annual Ernie Blankenship Radio Telethon that will be held Wednesday, March 25 in Hillsboro and Greenfield. She is bright, bubbly and friendly, and lights up a room when she walks in.
Duncan’s family spent the first 32 days of her life living in a Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Hospital. Then when she was four months old, Duncan had heart surgery.
But that was then.
“Her heart is perfect,” her mother said. “Her cardiologist says she’s his poster child.”
At one time, Duncan attended the Hillsboro Christian Academy, and the plan is for her to return to a regular classroom. But for now she is home-schooled, largely because of intensive speech, physical, academic and other regular therapy. She also takes dance classes, which O’Madden said her daughter calls, “tippy toes.”
“We feel that with all the individual one-on-one stuff she can get things done quicker,” O’Madden said of the home schooling.
The society plans to by an iPad for Duncan with special apps so she can communicate better, although she had few issues interacting Monday with the staff at First State Bank in Hillsboro, who will serve as hosts for this year’s telethon.
“I just know that we have tried to do a lot of things on our own and sometimes things get really tight,” O’Madden said. “I think it’s really great that we have an organization that is helping families that maybe can’t.”
The telethon is sponsored annually by the Rotary Clubs in Hillsboro and Greenfield. It will be held this year from 7-9 p.m. at the Hillsboro Orpheum and McClain High School TV studio in Greenfield.
Herb Day and Rick Williams will be the hosts in Hillsboro, with Rob Sharp and Rocky Coss spelling them.
“It’s an amazing organization,” Gayle Coss said of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults. “When I first came here I had never heard of anything like it before.”
The first radio telethon in 1973 raised $1,715. Last year it raised $101,818. Gayle Coss said 95 percent of the money raised through the telethon goes directly to the people of Highland County for things they otherwise likely could not afford.
“It’s a very worthwhile program, but what’s important to us is that there’s been great leadership with this organization for many years,” First State President and CEO Mike Pell said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.