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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Poster children for telethon named

Monday, February 18, 2002

(Photo)
SIKESTON - With only five weeks left before the 22nd Annual Kenny Rogers Children's Center Telethon, it is time once again to remind people what the telethon and center are all about.

The faces on posters promoting this year's telethon are only a fraction of the lives touched by telethon donations.

"We provide services to more than 300 children in nine counties throughout southeast Missouri at no direct cost to their families," said Chuck Martin, KRCC's executive director.

Originally known as the Kenny Rogers Cerebral Palsy Center, Kenny Rogers Children's Center has expanded its services over the years to include children who need physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy for reasons other than CP.

"We only do pediatrics," said Martin. "Everything we do is geared toward helping children with special needs."

From indoor treehouses and board games to touch-screen computers and fiberoptic lights, therapist have at their disposal a bag of tricks that would capture the attention of any child.

"They come in and think they're playing," said Nikki Jines, speech therapist. Meanwhile, therapists are achieving their therapy goals in a relaxed setting.

In addition to providing services at the center, KRCC also sends therapists "on-site" to 25 school districts in the area.

The ability to provide all these services at no cost to the families would not be possible "if not for the generosity of people," said Martin, most of which is seen during the yearly telethon. "That is our single biggest fund raiser." Martin estimated the center needs to raise $200,000 to cover operating costs.

KRCC officials hope to raise some of that during a dinner-auction scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 22 at the Elks Lodge. "It is the kick-off event that launches telethon weekend," said Martin.

Tickets are $50 per person and include a steak dinner or fish for those observing Lent. Following the meal, the auction will begin.

"Items are being collected for the auction even now," said Martin. Past auctions have included everything from big screen televisions to new cars.

Martin said many people just think of it as a $50 gift, "but in addition you receive a wonderful meal and a ton of fun."

March 23 the telethon itself begins at the Sikeston High School Field House, running from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., and continuing March 24 from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

"Gary Jones and his band will be headlining for us this year," said Martin. The telethon will also feature regional entertainers.

During the telethon, a celebrity silent auction and collectibles-card show will be held as well.

In addition to the telethon March 24, there will also be a benefit fish fry by the James Bayou Cookers. "After church finishes, come eat fish with us," Martin suggested.

The cost is $7 per person, every penny of which will go to the KRCC, according to Martin, as the Bayou Cookers will absorb the cost of providing the food themselves.

Martin summed up the telethon events as an opportunity to enjoy a "family-friendly environment" while at the same time "helping support children with special needs."