SIKESTON - "The kids are asking for our help," said Larry Carroll as he voiced a plea for support for the 24th annual Kenny Rogers Children's Center Telethon and activities.
Carroll, speaking to the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce during their monthly meeting Thursday, explained this year's event will be different from previous years.
Fund-raising activities for the center, which provides physical, occupational and speech therapy services to some 300 area children, will begin on March 6 with an auction at the Sikeston Elks Lodge. The auction will start at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.
Carroll said auction items will include "lots of good items" including tickets to a Brooks and Dunn concert, the NASCAR Brickyard 400, a Rams football game and a Cardinals baseball game.
On March 12 will be the kick-off dinner at the Elks. The evening's activities will include games, entertainment and a silent auction.
When the telethon opens on March 13, viewers will take note of a new "house" band. This year's music will be provided by Terry Mike Jeffery, a songwriter, entertainer, instrumentalist, arranger and musical director.
The telethon will be broadcast from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on March 13 over local cable access channels. It will gear back up on March 14 beginning at 8 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m.
Carroll asked the audience to visualize healthy children who are able to run and play then think of the children served by the Kenny Rogers Children's Center. "These kids are asking for our help so one day they can play, walk and talk with no help ..." he said.
Also addressing the membership was Bill Powers who spoke about the Kitty League baseball team which will play this summer in Sikeston. Emphasizing the games will be family events, Powers said in addition to baseball, the home games will include numerous special activities.
According to Powers the independent baseball leagues are garnering more attention from the major league teams. "Players who don Sikeston uniforms today could be wearing Cardinal uniforms in the future," he said.
Currently there are four teams in the league. In addition to Sikeston, the league will have teams from Farmington, Fulton, Ky., and an as yet unnamed location in Tennessee.
"This will be your team," said Powers. He added residents will be asked to help name the new team and local businesses will be approached about sponsorship opportunities and ways to encourage the local league.
In other Chamber news:
* Robin Pace, SACC president, provided the annual report on Chamber activities. Membership, as of Dec. 31, was 529.
During the past year total income was $177,335. Expenses totaled $172,459 which included new computers and a new floor for the office. The Chamber made 12,364 referrals to area members and the Website, Sikeston.net, continues to receive lots of hits.
* Nomination forms are available for the awards which will be presented at the April 1 Chamber banquet. The forms, due by March 1, are seeking nominations for SACC Volunteer of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Educator of the Year, Civic Group of the Year, Educator of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Business of the Year.
"There is still time to make a nomination," said Missy Marshall, SACC executive director. "They have been coming in but we would like to have a lot more."
Forms are available from the Chamber office.
* A Workplace Readiness Credentialing Project will be conducted by the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center in collaboration with the Sikeston Career and Technology Center, the Workforce Investment Board and Southeast Missouri State University. The program, targeted at displaced workers, is designed to provide them with the skills to find and keep meaningful employment.