The more than $3 million it has raised since inception is a testament to how Highland County helps it own. And on Wednesday, June 24, despite a little set back earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 48th annual Ernie Blankenship Memorial Radio Telethon will come calling again.
Usually staged in a local bank with throngs of people showing up to help and make contributions, this one will be different. Since COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, it will be virtual only event held at the Hillsboro Orpheum.
Another change is that poster child — this year 8-year-old Elisha Duncan — will not be present.
“She’s kind of getting short-changed since she doesn’t get to participate in all the traditional stuff,” said Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss, now the readio telethon’s primary organizer.
While local residents will not be able to take part in the event live, there are several ways they can make a donation and be recognized.
During the radio telethon from 7-9 p.m., donors can make pledges by calling 937-402-5557, by dropping off pledges at the First State Bank drive through at its branch on Harry Sauner Road in Hillsboro, or by logging onto the event by video conferencing and presenting their donations, which will be broadcast live on radio and the community access TV channel.
Additionally, donors who are not able to donate during the event are asked to make a short video presenting their donations and emailing them to the Rotary Club to be downloaded and played during the live event. They can do that by recording on smartphones, video cameras or computer. A link to watch the telethon through WebEx can be found on the society’s website at hicoso.com.
“This is will be a new experience for everyone including the Rotary members and the volunteers who plan and conduct the event,” Coss said. “Terry Mikkleson of Tech-T Productions, who has provided the camera work for the broadcast, will be hosting the video conferencing platform and will be able to stream the audio and video on the radio and community access TV channel.”
As always, donors should send their checks payable to: HCCSA, P.O. Box 258, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
It will be broadcast live from the Hillsboro Orpheum on the Spectrum Community Access TV Channel in Hillsboro, and WSRW Radio 1590 AM and 101.5 FM, and WVNU Radio 97.5 FM.
It will be hosted by First State Bank with Hillsboro emcees Rick Williams and Herb Day to be joined by a host from the Greenfield Rotary Club at the Orpheum.
“The Rotary clubs felt it was necessary to proceed with the event now as it is unclear when larger social gatherings will be permitted,” Coss said. “First State Bank, Dale Martin, owner of the Hillsboro Orpheum, and Spectrum had been extremely supportive of planning for the event originally scheduled for March 25 and it is important to recognize and thank them for their help in planning the original event and continuing to work with Rotary to make this event happen.”
The radio telethon benefits the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, which provides help with medical expenses that Highland County residents otherwise might not be able to afford.
The first radio-telethon was held in 1973 at the former Hillsboro Bank office in Hillsboro and raised $1,715. It has saw years when it raised more than $200,00. Almost all of the society’s funds are raised through the event. The society has seen an increase in financial need for medical expenses by many local families in the past three years, and anticipates that will continue.