By Greg Price
It may be in its 21st year of existence, but the organizers of the Taber and District Health Foundation Share in the Experience of Giving Telethon continue to be amazed at the community’s continued generousity to the event.
“I can tell you right now, I can sit here on the 26th (the day after the telethon), and I’ll be saying ‘holy crap, I can’t believe what just happened with people’s generousity,” said Dave McKee, fundraising co-ordinator for the Taber and District Health Foundation.
The Share in the Experience of Giving Telethon goes Oct. 25 from 2-8 p.m., live from the Heritage Inn, televised by Shaw Channel 9.
While the phone lines burn up that day with donations, people open their wallets far before then.
“Our letters go out, advising them about the telethon in the first 10 days of September. Donations come in where they know their name will be read and it’s not left right to the telethon date,” said McKee. “There’s a huge amount of donations that come in pre-telethon.”
While fundraising totals are impressive, with southern Albertans getting to see first hand the benefit of the telethon, every year the quality of healthcare in the Taber area continues to go up.
Past years, community donations have allowed the foundation to buy endoscopy equipment, instrumentation for gall bladder surgery, upgrades for the Diagnostic Imaging Department, an ultrasound machine, a defibrillator, electronic beds, sleep recorder for children with sleep apnea, a chemical analyzer, dual-headed microscope, and a fetal monitor as just some of the many things to have the hospital meet people’s health-care needs. This past year, the Taber Hospital saw a boon to its equipment capacity.
“It has been very active over the last two years. With the big donations that have come over the last two years, we’ve probably been able to buy equipment for every sector of the hospital,” said McKee. “This included a huge upgrade to the sterilization equipment which was tagged at about $250,000. That would allow instruments that are used in the operating room to be sterilized in Taber. What used to happen was they were driven to Lethbridge, sterilized in Lethbridge and then sent back. So instead of having two or three sets of equipment, you have five because before you had two sets that were on the road at all times. It has allowed operating rooms to be utilized more efficiently.”
The health foundation’s influence is far reaching, from south to Wrentham and north to Enchant, from near Coaldale west to Grassy Lake and Burdett east.
The telethon has managed to raise $5.1 million to date, including a record $500,000 thanks in part to a big $250,000 donation by Adele Collett in memory of her husband Brian, who passed away recently.
“Are we expecting something like that again ($500,000)? Of course not, if we drop back to that $160,000-$175,000 mark, we are gong to be overjoyed,” said McKee. “The telethon means so much to some people, they have thought about us in their estate planning, which is really, really nice. Some of our entertainers come and do the telethon because of something that happened to grandma or something that happened to their daughter.”
Breanne Urban and Trevor Panczak will help bring home the final hour of the telethon as musical artists.
Manning the pledge phones will be various service clubs in the community like Kinsmen, Knights of Columbus, Lions and Lioness, and Kiwanis to go along with staff at the Taber Medical Clinic.
Phone operators will also include politicians from the town councils in Taber, Barnwell, M.D. of Taber, and Vauxhall.
The comedic stylings for MCs ‘Wild’ Bill Lawson and Peter Seadon will once again be on display as the six hours goes by seamlessly from 2-8 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Heritage Inn.
“It’s a treat watching those guys work. I may write the script, but they don’t follow it,” said McKee with a chuckle, adding there are also taped segments that go on throughout the telethon highlighted what the telethon is accomplishing. “It’s about a 40-page script. They go off the beaten path whenever they feel like it. It’s tow great guys who have a lot of fun and add a lot to the telethon.”
You can call in your pledge during the telethon at 403-223-2404 or advance donations are welcome at the Taber Hospital.
The Taber and District Health Foundation accepts online donations as well using the services of CanadaHelps.org or donations can be sent by mail to Taber and District Health Foundation at 4326 50th Avenue, Taber, Alberta. T1G 1N9.