A November tradition four decades old returns to the Sid Williams Theatre Sunday as the 40th annual Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon takes over the hallowed halls of Courtenay’s famed landmark.
The theme this year is “Celebrate” and CVCDA executive director Joanne Schroeder said the committee is sticking with the tried and true formula.
“There’s nothing new per se this year – we are really trying to focus on celebrating the tradition,” said Schroeder. “The one thing we will do a little differently is that we plan on taking a little more time to honour the Baynes Sound Lions and the other groups and people that have been giving money for years and years and years.”
When it comes to celebrating the tradition, there is little, if anything, more relevant than the Baynes Sound Lions.
The service group from Fanny Bay has one of the most inspiring and successful Telethon traditions going.
For 39 years, Baynes Sound Lions members have pushed a wheelbarrow from Fanny Bay to Courtenay, collecting funds along the way.
There are miniature wooden wheelbarrows set up at checkpoints on the route all year long, into which people donate coins. The Lions start the day with an empty wheelbarrow and by the time they get to the Sid Williams Theatre (it takes about eight hours to walk the 32 kilometre route), the wheelbarrow is full.
The Baynes Sound Lions estimate they have collected more than $200,000 for the CVCDA through their wheelbarrow walk.
“They have been really amazing over the years,” said CVCDA board president Pam Crowe. “They don’t ask us for anything – they just do their walk, rain or shine… they really are the epitome of volunteerism. What they do is very selfless. It’s what it’s all about.”
Crowe said the “grand entrance” of the Baynes Sound Lions and their wheelbarrow has become an anticipated moment for everyone involved in the Telethon.
“Usually at about 3:30 we look to get an update on where they are,” said Crowe. “When they get here, they immediately go downstairs and start counting like crazy, then they come up to the stage with the big reveal. It is very much anticipated – not so much because of the total, but really, because it’s such a great effort. It’s very unique. It’s very ‘small town’ and it’s very heartwarming.”
The Tin Grin Cup remains the largest single donation in the history of the Telethon, cracking the $26,000 mark one year. The Tin Grin Cup was a golf tournament held on the first Monday of September, organized by Dr. Paul Helpard of Shoreline Orthodontics.
“He (Helpard) would organize the dental community for this golf tournament at Crown Isle,” said Crowe. “That (fundraiser) hovered around $20,000 for quite a few years, so that was a huge start for us.
”The Helpards continue to be huge supporters of the CDA.”
The Telethon has stayed true to its local roots for entertainment purposes throughout its history and this Sunday’s milestone Telethon will be no different.
Helen Austin and Sue Finneron will host the first four hours of the Telethon, with Kenny Shaw and Gayle Bates hosting the second half.
Entertainers will include the Georgia Strait Jazz, the Comox Valley Children’s Choir, Doug Cox, Brodie Dawson, Luc Blu Guthrie, Sue Medley and just about every dance troupe in the Valley.
(Full entertainment schedule at bottom of page)
The entertainment is a big reason for people to go to the Telethon, and the CDA has a special treat for any kids who are in attendance.
“We will be having a draw of both a boys’ and a girls’ bike at 5 p.m. – free for someone in attendance,” said Schroeder. “All the kids who are in the theatre will be eligible for the draw.”
The silent auction is always one of the big fundraising efforts the day of the Telethon. The list of items that will be up for grabs at this year’s silent auction continues to grow.
WestJet has stepped up again this year, offering two tickets anywhere WestJet flies. For the sports enthusiasts, there are tickets to the Vancouver Canucks games, as well as tickets to the BC Lions games.
“We have this huge, eight-foot by five-foot original painting by Roy Randell, who has always donated to us,” said Schroeder. “We have a gourmet dinner for six, prepared in your home by one of our local chefs. We have some beautiful silver jewelry from I-Hos Gallery.”
There is also a two-night stay in Ucluelet, among other items.
“People will be able to bid over the phone, live at the theatre, and online,” said Schroeder.
The plan is to close the phone and online bidding half an hour before the live bidding closes, so if there’s something particularly desirable to you, the best place to be is at the Sid Williams Theatre.
How about doing all your Christmas shopping at once? The raffle basket has something for nearly everyone on your Christmas list. There are upwards of 50 prizes in the raffle basket, with everything from rounds of golf at three different courses (Comox, Sunnydale and Storey Creek), to a handmade quilt courtesy of Linda Hamilton. There are gift certificates to many local restaurants and stores, massages, books and games – and one winner takes it all. Tickets for the raffle basket will be available at the Telethon – $2 apiece, or three for $5.
Canucks trip raffle
There is also the raffle for a trip to see the Vancouver Canucks play the Colorado Avalanche at Roger’s Arena, Feb. 21, 2016. The prize includes VIP tickets to the game, as well as deluxe accommodation at a downtown Vancouver hotel.
Tickets are going fast at $25 each and the best part is there are only 300 tickets printed. Tickets for the hockey raffle will be available at the Telethon, if there are any remaining. To avoid disappointment, go to the CDA office on Third Street and Cliffe Avenue to buy your ticket on that draw today.
Legion Color Party
Military Wives Choir
Georgia Strait Jazz
CDA Jumpstart Choir
Bruce & Judy
Comox Valley Children’s Choir
Triple Heat Dance
Just in Time Choir
Guides/Brownies and Pathfinders
Dolyna Ukrainian Dancers
Jim Papp and Mike Johnson
Darrell & Saskia
Mary Murphy and Paul Kiem
Sue Medley & John Mang
Finale – Doing it For the Kids!