“It’s all about the kids,” says Pam Crowe, as she speaks about the upcoming Children’s Telethon.
The Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) president and telethon co-ordinator encourages the community to attend the fundraising event in person, which happens from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Sid Williams Theatre. Or, it can be seen live on Shaw TV or live-streamed on the CVCDA website, www.cvcda.ca, thanks to My Tech Guys.
The free event will be packed with entertainment, including a wide array of local musicians and a silent auction. Raffle prizes will be drawn, kids can get their faces painted and some big cheques from various community service clubs, businesses and organizations will be unveiled.
The Children’s Telethon is the CVCDA’s largest fundraising event each year. All proceeds support local children with special needs and their families.
CVCDA executive director Lorraine Aitken says the association serves over 800 children and their families each year.
“The feedback we get from families … is that not only are we making a difference in the lives of the children, but of the whole family and the community,” says Aitken. “Every time we help a child improve their development, gain developmental skills, we help that family live a more typical life and also help the whole family live a more typical life in the community.”
Three-year-old Ellie Herbert is this year’s child ambassador.
Her and her family have been using CVCDA services since the fall of 2010 when they were part of a preemie group that met weekly at the centre. The family is now in Istanbul, Turkey, but her parents Paula and Mike spoke via e-mail about how CVCDA services have helped them.
“The CVCDA helps parents like us immensely,” say Ellie’s parents. “They are like an extended family and are there to offer support and give advice when in need.
“The programs are beneficial to both the child and parents and we rely on the services; it’s imperative in order to aid Ellie’s development.
“Every single improvement helps our family as a whole. We are 100 per cent dedicated to making Ellie’s life more comfortable each day.”
The CVCDA offers an array of programs and services, such as an infant development program, speech language pathology, an autism program, occupational therapy and physical therapy, to name a few.
While the Ministry of Children and Family Development covers the wages and benefits of CVCDA staff, the CVCDA covers all operational costs using fundraised dollars.
Last year’s telethon raised $83,000 for the CVCDA, and Crowe hopes to do as well this year.
“We always hope to do as well as we did the year before, so we’d like to — and I would say that we are almost dependent on — raising $80,000,” says Crowe. “We budget for that; it’s become a point where we need that amount of money.
“$100,000 would be over the top in more ways than one, but my philosophy has always been what we start with is zero and what we get is what the community gives us, and we are thankful for that.”
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The telethon has been at the Old Church Theatre since 1998, and this is its first year back in its old home at the Sid.
“One of the things about the Old Church is that it was smaller so if you filled it up it was maybe only 100 or so people, whereas, 100 people in the Sid looks pretty sparse,” says telethon co-ordinator Pam Crowe as she explains organizers hope more of the community physically comes to the telethon this year.
“It’s nice for the performers to feel the support of the community and to feel like they’re playing to a crowd.”
Some highlights of the this year’s silent auction include a portrait mask by Randy Frank, two nights of deluxe accommodation at the Black Rock Resort in Ucluelet and WestJet tickets to anywhere WestJet flies.
There’s a raffle basket filled with $2,500 of local goodies, like golf, ski and spa packages and $500 in gift certificates to local restaurants. Another raffle prize is two VIP tickets to the March 8 Vancouver Canucks versus Calgary Flames game with deluxe accommodation in Vancouver.
A few of the many performers include Helen Austin, Sue Medley, Keisja Cox, Luke Blu Guthrie, Susie McGregor, Todd Butler, Rainbow Youth Theatre and Valley Dance.
For more information visit www.cvcda.ca, check them out on Facebook, call 250-338-4288 or drop by the centre at 237 Third St.
Those watching from home are encouraged to donate by calling 250-334-9200.