In the time of television’s infancy, locally produced telethons designed to raise money for local charitable efforts were fairly common across the country in cities of any significant size.
With charities often partnering with, or outright sponsored by, local media outlets, the variety-show format — generally using local entertainers and interspersed with appeals to the public to donate to the cause — became a familiar and effective means of raising money. Over time, however, many of these telethons became a thing of the past, with national telethons taking their place.
And while it may seem a thing out of time, the 66-year-old WHAS Crusade For Children stands tall as a successful survivor of another era, still doing great work in Louisville and its surrounding area each June, and year-round.
This year, the Crusade for Children raised nearly $5.7 million, and $190 million total in 66 years of work serving children with special needs in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties, as well as 50 more in Southern Indiana. The telethon itself still goes on, but more people now engage with the everyday public face of the Crusade, through grass-roots collection efforts and events throughout the Louisville Metro Area. The most prominent of these is when drivers encounter firefighters with drop-buckets and boots at major intersections throughout the region, with fire departments — including those in Nelson County — contributing more than 50 percent of the funding, serving as the backbone of the charitable efforts.
Special bequests from philanthropists and businesses in the region play a big part in the Crusade’s efforts as well, with those funds dedicated toward operational costs for the fundraiser. That means 100 percent of donations — through the telethon and other media efforts, and especially money raised by fire departments — go directly toward funding the Crusade’s mission of children with special needs. When you donate, you know where your money is going.
That’s especially so here in Nelson County, as we found out when an announcement was made late last month of Crusade grants that go out to local organizations. The Hardin Memorial Health Foundation was one of the biggest recipients, with $95,000 that will be used to fund pediatric therapy services at Bardstown Medical Plaza. Other beneficiaries include Bardstown City Schools and Nelson County Schools, NelCASA and the Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation, among others.
Many people are hesitant to donate to charities out of fear of where their money is going. With the WHAS Crusade For Children, you know, and your community benefits as a result.