The Comox Valley came through “for the kids,” again.
The 45th Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon was another community-wide success, despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19.
It was impossible to predict how much of an effect the pandemic would have on the final numbers.
From a production standpoint, it was vastly different. The majority of the eight-hour show was pre-recorded. The MCs were live at the Sid Williams Theatre, as were the phone operators, and a few of the performers. But how would the community respond, in these trying times?
“I am absolutely speechless,” said CVCDA president Diane Daigle, who was overseeing her first telethon, as president of the board. “I was hoping for 60 in a pandemic, but everybody just came together for our kids. It’s hard to say that without getting choked up, but we say ‘do it for the kids’ and look at how our community comes together.”
The tote board at the end of the show read $96,260 – nearly $2,000 more than the 2019 total of $94,489.
The silent auction brought in $11,600, a total nearly matched by the Baynes Sound Lions Club’s annual wheelbarrow walk.
“The wheelbarrow, oh my gosh – $11,500, and those people pushed it for 33 kilometres,” said Daigle. “Just amazing.”
It was also the first telethon for new CVCDA executive director Cindy Xavier, who took over from Joanne Schroeder in January of this year. She was equally amazed at the final total.
“It’s crazy, absolutely a testament to the hard work of this committee, our volunteers, our performers, and this community – it’s just unbelievable. I am blown away, simply blown away.”
Xavier said once the decision was made to go ahead with the telethon during the pandemic, everything fell into place.
“I think the biggest challenge that we overcame was our fear of ‘can we’ and ‘what if.’ I remember the second meeting we had, the conversation shifted from ‘can we’ to ‘yes we can. Now let’s figure out how.’ From there, everyone came together. We had a shorter timeline this year – we started planning in the middle of September, where normally we start doing this in July. We wanted to make sure this was still a great event. Ninety-five per cent of this was pre-recorded, and that is no small feat.”
She said none of it could have been possible without the unwavering support of the Comox Valley business community.
“We weren’t sure how they were going to react,” said Xavier. “We know they are suffering, going through hardship through this pandemic, and yet our silent auction was bigger and better than ever before.
“Forty-five years is a testament to a lot of community support. When we made the decision to go ahead with the telethon, that’s what we based that decision on. We wanted to come together for the community – give them a show of hope that we are all going to support each other through to the end of this pandemic, and that this could be, I hope, a bit of a beacon of light in the midst of it all. Our community, the Comox Valley, and the businesses of this community… there are no words.”
“The phones never stopped ringing,” added Daigle. “The businesses, the people… it was incredible. It was like everybody in the community came together to make sure this was a success.”