Pulling in more than $117,000 in donations, the 50th annual Ernie Blankenship Memorial Radio-Telethon was the most successful fundraising event in support of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults since 2014.
An estimated crowd of more than 300 people attended the fundraiser Wednesday at the Hillsboro Orpheum.
Each year, the Hillsboro and Greenfield Rotary Clubs organize the radio-telethon to support the Highland County Society for Children and Adults, which provides for the medical needs of Highland County residents when other help is unavailable.
The supporting event organized by the Greenfield Rotary Club was broadcast from the McClain High School studio in Greenfield, where $4,276 of the radio-telethon total was raised.
The two rotary clubs raised just under $95,000 during the 2021 event.
Rocky Coss, who serves on the board of the Highland County Society for Children and Adults and is the chairman of the event’s committee for the Hillsboro Rotary Club, said he was surprised by the amount of donations garnered from this year’s radio-telethon.
“There are a lot of factors that went into it,” he said. “It’s the 50th anniversary of the telethon, and we were recognizing all the past poster children and adults, and so many of them were present, and a lot of them raised money through their own churches or their own activities.”
Coss said Emily Davis, who has served as a poster child for the fundraiser several times, asked for contributions in lieu of gifts for her birthday party.
Additionally, Coss attributed the success of this year’s event to being unencumbered by COVID-19 and increased participation from schools and youth groups that were limited when last year’s event was moved to June when schools were closed for the summer.
“We had an email come in that said it was great to see a return to normalcy because this has always been a pretty big event,” said Coss. “Actually, I believe that last night was probably the most people that we’ve had because it took us an hour to get in everyone who was there in person, and we still had people coming in, but we weren’t even able to read any of the pledges that were called in on the phone until 8 o’clock, which is a great problem to have.”
Coss said he appreciated the contributions of Dale Martin, who owns the Orpheum and donated the use of the venue, as well as NCB, the host of the event. “They just did a great job in addition to the very generous donation,” said Coss.
He said the Highland County Society for Children and Adults is unique in its ability to ensure all donations are used to help people within the county. “It was founded in 1950 as a chapter of the Easter Seals, and then after the Rotary clubs began raising money for it in ’73 with the first radio-telethon, the Rotary members encouraged the society, and the members of that board agreed, that we should become an independent society rather than participate in the Easter Seals because 38 percent of the monies were going to Easter Seals and not staying in the county,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in the organization since 1978 and in Rotary since ’77, and there are no other local charities like it that we’re aware of in terms of being able to raise money and help people who live in our county with medical expenses and equipment and devices that aren’t covered through insurance or through other programs,” said Coss.
The Cassner Foundation came through with the largest donation this year by contributing $15,000. Merchants National Bank contributed $10,000 and a photo of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow that was auctioned for $1,450 at the event. NCB donated $10,000 and a French Lick Springs hotel and golf package that sold for $600 at the event.
“Of course, Ernie Blankenship was part of the founding of that bank [NCB] and worked with them until just a couple years before he died, so they made a significant contribution in his memory,” said Coss.
In addition to a donation of $6,000, the Hillsboro Rotary Club gave $1,000 in memory of Gayle Coss. “Gayle Coss, my wife who died in December, was a longtime Rotarian, and she had been secretary of the club for 10 years and also was the secretary of the society for 16 years up until she died,” said Coss.
Checks for the Highland County Society for Children and Adults are still being accepted. They should be made out to HCSCA and taken to NCB or mailed to the society at P.O. Box 972, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
The following is a summary of the larger donations received at this year’s radio-telethon: Cassner Foundation – $15,000; Merchants National Bank – $10,000 plus donated Joe Burrow Photo – $1,450; NCB – $10,000 plus donated French Lick package – $600; Hillsboro VFW – $8,000; Hillsboro Rotary – $6,000 plus $1,000 in memory of Gayle Coss; Amvets – $5,000; Hillsboro Eagles – $3,000; Peoples National Bank – $2,500; Allensburg Church of Christ – $2,155; Weastec – $2,000; Highland Co. Dem Party – $2,000; Hillsboro Schools – $3,905.57; Hillsboro Elementary – $845.10; Hillsboro Middle School – $2,560.47; FFA – $500; Rick/Robyn O’Dell – $1,500; Southern Hills Community Bank – $1,500; First State Bank – $1,500; Anonymous – $1,500; Dave McKenna/Lesia Langston – $1,000; Rhubarb Farms – $1,000; Rocky Coss – $1,000; Larry/Lana Dukes – $1,000; Bright Local Schools – $715; Blankenship Family – $500; Big Ernie’s Pizza – $500; Lynchburg-Clay Schools – $450; Dr. Kevin/Mrs. Boys – $500; Kevin/Kristi Greer – $500; Tim/Deb Koehl – $500; Paul Pence – $500; Classic Real Estate – $500; Burwinkel Family Dentistry – $500; Reed Trailer Sales – $500; Coyote Trailer Mfg. – $500; St. Mary’s Council – $500; Earzlink – $500; Highland Co. Republican Club – $500; Highland Co. Cattlemen’s Assn. – $500; Bear Mechanical – $500.
French Lick Springs Hotel/Golf Package donated by NCB – Little Ernie Blankenship – $600;
Joe Burrow autographed photograph donated by Merchants – Steve Haag – $1,450;
OSU 2014 Championship autographed football donated by Rocky Coss – Tip Long –$700;
One-year YMCA family membership donated by YMCA — Sara Surber – $450;
4 tickets to Keith Urban concert donated by JohnBarney/iHeart Media – $250;
Jerry Lucas autographed basketball donated by CroweFinancial – John Evans – $200;
Tony Perez signed baseball donated by DQ Grill/Chill Mt.Orab – Wilm-Barry Reinholz –$160;
OSU sign and gift card donated by Cundiff’s Flowers – MatGreene – $50; Cincinnati Bengals hat, program donated by Cincinnati Bengals – Keith Chambers – $35;
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.