Telethon Changes Bring Stars Out Earlier This Year

Telethon changes bring stars out earlier this year

Seventy-five telephones.

Check. Almost 3,000 donated meals. Check. Celebrity appearances that include Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, daytime soap opera actors and Miss World. Check. Almost one year of planning – “semi-organized mass confusion,” as producer Stan Reynolds Sr. calls it – will come full circle this weekend when Variety – The Children’s Charity of Iowa holds its annual telethon. The telethon, in its 35th year, begins at 7 p.m. Saturday and runs until 6 p.m. Sunday at the Polk County Convention Complex, 833 Fifth Ave., Des Moines. It is broadcast on WOI-TV. Last year, the telethon raised $3.46 million for children in Iowa. Reynolds said the group hopes to surpass that number this year. “We never set a goal,” he said. “If you set a goal and make it, your telethon ends at that point. “We turn down lots of requests for money, and we’d always like to raise more,” Reynolds said. “The people of Iowa have responded every year in good times and bad times. Children in need, they don’t understand the ups and downs of the stock market.” Variety supports charities across Iowa that benefit at-risk youth, disabled and underprivileged children and critically ill children. About 200 requests were received last year. Eighty were filled. A big component of the telethon is the celebrity guests who attend. Many return year after year to assist with the fundraiser. None is paid. Johnson, along with her partner from “Dancing with the Stars” – a reality show that she is competing in – are among those appearing. Johnson will be at the telethon from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Reynolds said.
The telethon usually takes place in March at Adventureland in Altoona but had to be changed because the “sweeps,” or Nielsen television ratings period, was moved to that month. Reynolds said organizers always wanted to have the event on Valentine’s Day and took the opportunity to move the telethon. Adventureland wasn’t available, so the event was moved to downtown Des Moines. “Valentine’s Day and helping children go together,” Reynolds said. “We appreciate our loved ones, and we know there’s kids out there in need.”

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