Above: Members of the Buffalo Bills Alumni appeal to viewers to make a pledge to the Telethon during a Corporate Match segment

On Sunday March 28, 2010, WKBW-TV will televise the 48th annual Variety Kids Telethon from 7am-7pm. This presentation is a culmination of the effort put forth by so many loving and caring volunteers over the past year. It is the result of endless hours of planning and fund raising by so many individuals, groups and businesses.
Variety - The Children's Charity of Buffalo and Western New York, Tent 7 is a 75 year old tradition of caring for children on the Niagara Frontier. The organization was founded in 1928 when an abandoned baby, left in a theatre in Pittsburgh, was “adopted” by eleven Godfathers. From the desperate plight of a heartbroken mother who could no longer care for her infant, has emerged the “Largest Children’s Charity in the World”, with 59 Tents, as the Chapters are known, throughout the Free World. The sole commitment of each Tent is aid and service to children; the sick, the handicapped and the underprivileged in each locale.
Tent 7, the Buffalo Chapter, chartered on May 12, 1934, generated funds in the early years to provide iron lungs for polio victims, wheelchairs, braces and other equipment for handicapped children. An electroencephalograph (at that time was the only one located between New York City and Chicago) was purchased and incubators were provided for premature infants. Most of the fund-raising during that era was done through theatre collections and dinner parties.

In 1961, Variety was approached by Dr. Robert Warner, who had a dream . . . . to create a rehabilitation center for children with birth defects and those afflicted due to trauma or disease. Variety agreed to support this endeavor and realized they must expand their fund-raising efforts in order to do so. Thus emerged the 1st Annual Variety Club Telethon. The results of that effort raised in excess of $80,000.00, and the Children’s Rehabilitation Center, a department of Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo became a reality. The annual Telethon, this our 48th consecutive, is the longest locally produced Telethon in the world.

Through the 60’s and 70’s, the Rehab Center and other departments of Children’s Hospital were the main beneficiaries of Telethon Funds. Soon, other children’s agencies began approaching Variety with funding requests. In 1980, not only did Variety expand its commitment to Children’s, it also began to serve many other children’s charities; St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo, Camp Good Days & Special Times, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Variety Camping Fund and many others.

Variety Kids Telethon 2009, raised over $1.1 million. The needs continue to grow; therefore the fund-raising efforts and corporate underwriting must grow to meet those needs and join with Variety in commitment and dedication to the children we serve . . . EVERYBODY’S CHILDREN!

The one question asked is where does the money go? How do Variety decide who receives funding. Besides the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and the Robert Warner MD Center For Children With Special Needs, the annual Telethon also helps to support other WNY children charities.

Realizing that as a fund raising organization, Variety - The Children's Charity of Buffalo and Western New York is the keeper of public funds through its year long activities, the largest of which is the Annual Telethon, and as such, is also the keeper of the “Public Trust” in the way these contributions are distributed.

The Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation of the Variety Club of Buffalo, Inc. is the recipient of all donations from the Annual Variety Kids Telethon and other fund raising sources.

Within the Foundation is the Heart Committee, a seven member panel, who receive all funding requests, personally investigate the need, and report on all findings. Those requesting funds, must supply the Foundation with current audited financial statements, a 501 C(3) determination letter (their charitable status), and information as to how the funds will be used. Variety requests that these funds be administered in hands-on programs to directly benefit children, and does not fund administrative costs.

The Heart Committee will then make their recommendations to the Officers and Directors of the Foundation for their approval.

The contributions are then disbursed to the recipients at the Annual “Thanks for Giving” Presentation Dinner, held in October of each year.

In 2009, the following are organizations received support: Big Brothers & Big Sisters, BornHava, Boys & Girls Club of Holland, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, Buffalo Hearing & Speech, Camp Good Days & Special Times, CAPS, Inc., CHC Learning Center, Children's Growth Foundation, Cradle Beach Camp, Excalibur Leisure Skills, Delta Sonic/Pizza Hut/ Variety Youth Hockey, Genesee County YMCA, Heritage Center, Hospice, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Make-A-Wish, Moving Miracles, Project Lifesaver, SABAH, St. Mary's School for the Deaf, Summit Educational Services, Variety Camping Program, Variety at Work Program and the YMCA Challenger Sports Group.

The 48th annual Variety Kids Telethon on Sunday March 28 will have something for everyone. The theme of the 2010 Telethon is Help Our Kids Smile. And that is something that you see on the Celebrity child’s face all the time. The Telethon is proud to introduce 2010 Celebrity Child Sarah Kopasz of Lewiston. Seeing Sarah's smile, it's hard to imagine what she's endured. Daughter of David and Theresa Kopasz, and sister to Gabrielle, Sarah was diagnosed at birth with an extremely rare genetic disorder called XQ 26,28 duplication. In addition to affecting her growth, muscle tone and learning ability, the disorder has resulted in hemihypertrophy, a condition in which one side of her body is 3% inches longer than the other.

Sarah had her first permanent feeding tube surgically placed when she was only 3 months old. Due to complications with a hernia, it had to be replaced just 7 months later. Sarah also lacked the muscle strength to keep her eyes open for the first year. of her life. At 1, she had her first of six eye surgeries. Despite her physical limitations, Sarah communicated through sign language and learned 20 signs as a one-year-old.

By 4, Sarah had undergone several surgeries and underwent painful physical, occupational, and speech therapy daily for almost her entire life. Doctors told Sarah's parents not to expect her to walk, talk or eat, a diagnosis the family refused to accept.

Fortunately for Sarah, her family moved to Lewiston in May 2004, during which time she started visiting Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo. Dr. Christine Albini, a pediatric endocrinologist, took charge and made sure Sarah was tested for every health risk to ensure she was getting the best possible care. Because Sarah is at high risk for certain cancers due to her condition and to the growth hormone shots she receives daily, Dr. Albini scheduled biannual kidney sonograms. Sarah's orthopedist, Dr. Robert Galpin, consults regularly with her parents in regards to her bone and growth issues.

In September of 2009, after a long, hard struggle and much therapy, Sarah's feeding tube was finally removed. This has opened up Sarah's world tremendously, allowing her to see possibilities rather than limitations. She still faces learning-based hurdles and has several surgeries ahead, but she has many aspirations: Sarah would like to be a jewelry designer, an actress, a musician and a teacher. For now, she enjoys attending third grade at Lewiston-Primary Education Center in Youngstown, watching Disney movies, collecting rocks, and loving animals.

Sarah has made great strides thanks to the unwavering support of her family and the determination of her doctors. She truly represents the thousands of children the Variety Kids Telethon helps each year — children who want to smile, achieve their dreams, and live their lives to the fullest.

Edward DeVantier is the general chairman of Telethon 2010. Ed joined Variety in 1998, and is currently the 1st assistant Chief Barker for the organization. Ed also serves as House Committee chairman and is responsible for maintaining Variety's office facilities on Delaware Avenue.

Ed has served in various roles for the Telethon including the chairmanship of the logistics and telephone committees. In addition, Ed has served as Vice-Chairman of the Administrative and Pre-Show divisions of the Telethon and for the last two years, Ed has served as Telethon Co-Chairman.

Ed has been employed by the Dupont Company is Niagara Falls as a supervisor for the past 34 years, specializing in SAP computer systems.

Ed has chosen Duane Paddock, owner of Paddock Chevrolet in Kenmore to serve as his honorary Chairman. Duane has been involved with Variety in the past by providing automobiles for the Telethon’s annual Car raffle. Duane has been very active in all aspects of the Telethon this year and is looking forward to helping the kids of Western New York smile.

There are many ways that the generosity of Western New Yorkers will be shining through in the next few weeks. There are events that will lead up to the Telethon. On Sunday March 21, the Variety Club Women will host their annual Telethon Kick-Off Cocktail Party. The event will be held at the Millennium Hotel on Walden Avenue. On Friday February 26 the Satellite Division of the Variety Kids Telethon will host their 48th annual Dinner. The Dinner features performances by the members of the Telethon National Cast. Tickets are $35 and the dinner is at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. Saturday March 27 will feature the 18th annual Lunch with Mr. Food. This annual event is held at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens on Transit Road in Depew. For your $35 donation you get lunch featuring recipes from the Mr. Food Cookbooks, a Mr. Food cookbook, Chinese auction and surprises. You can call the Variety Kids Telethon office at 854-7577 for tickets. Later on that day in the evening, Variety will present its 5th annual A Salute To The Kids: Concert With The Stars at Bishop Timon High School is South Buffalo. The Telethon National cast will put on a show like they would at any concert venue across the world. This show has grown every year and everyone that attends it, cannot wait for it to come back the following year. Tickets for this exciting show are only $20 and can be obtained by calling 854-7577. On Sunday March 28, the stars will be appearing at the Walden Galleria from Noon-2pm on the lower level in front of Macy’s. The public can stop by, meet the cast, get autographs and pictures and be a part of the Channel 7 remote broadcast.

Speaking of the cast, the stars are coming in to Help Our Kids Smile. Returning to the Telethon is ILENE GRAFF. Ilene is best known for her role as Marsha Owens on the hit ABC Show Mr. Belvedere. Ilene also played the role of Sandy in the Broadway production of Grease. Ilene is joined by her husband and musical conductor Ben Lanzarone. You can see Ilene at www.ilenegraff.com

Also returning is BRANDON BARASH, who play Johnny Zacharra on ABC’ s General Hospital. This is Brandon’s 3rd year participating in the Telethon. Look for Brandon to sing and tell some secrets about General Hospital which airs at 3pm weekdays on Channel 7. Visit Brandon at http://abc.go.com/shows/general-hospital

The planet’s best Elvis Impersonator, Western New York’s own TERRY BUCHWALD, will return for his 6th straight year as a member of the National cast. Terry has performed with the Telethon for the past 15 years and looks forward to the kids each year. You can enjoy Terry on the web at www.tcbtribute.com

It would not be a Telethon without the return of MR. FOOD. Mr. Food a.k.a. Art Ginsburg, makes sure that he is always available to come to Buffalo to help with the Telethon. Immensely popular all across the United States. Mr. Food’s daily recipes are shown on WKBW-TV every day at Noon and 5. Learn all about Mr. Food at www.mrfood.com

Joining the cast for the first time is BOB ANDERSON. It is one thing to be called "The Best" by all the entertainment critics, but it is the ultimate to be called "The Best" by your peers. Such is the case for Bob Anderson, the personable entertainer that People Magazine named, "The Best Singing Impressionist in America." Bob is not just an impressionist; he is a singer, a comic, a consummate entertainer. His appearances have taken him to the top venues around the world; Monte Carlo, Paris, Rome, London, Helsinki, Athens, Stockholm, Geneva, Zurich, Barcelona, Sydney, Dubai, as well as the elegant Plaza Hotel in New York City, and every major resort in Vegas, Reno,Tahoe, and Atlantic City. Bob has appeared on over 200 national television shows from Johnny Carson to David Letterman and all the rest. His foreign television appearances have allowed him to perform at the finest venues all over the world. Bob has hosted and co-hosted the Easter Seals and jerry Lewis Telethons in Las Vegas and is very excited to be coming here. You can learn more about Bob at www.bobanderson.com.

Variety will go a little bit of country this year with two outstanding performers. MARK WILLS comes to Buffalo for the first time. Mark has numerous hits under his belt already - "Jacob's Ladder," "Don't Laugh At Me," "I Do (Cherish You)" and his seven-week number one smash, "19 Something," to name just a few. In addition, he has sold millions of albums. He is excited about coming to the Telethon and has participated in different telethons across the country in the past. Check Mark out at http://markwills.musiccitynetworks.com/.

Our other Country star is MICA ROBERTS. She's a small town girl with big city dreams. She's a working woman balancing a hectic career with lifelong aspirations. She's determined to make it in country music ... and yet she already makes country music work. She's Mica Roberts, and with the release of her new Show Dog Nashville single "Days You Live For," she's taking the next step on a journey that's long since taken her to the world's biggest stages. In a sense, Mica's musical endeavors have been running on parallel tracks for years, but are just now beginning to converge. You can see and hear Mica at http://www.micaroberts.com/home/

In 2008, Singer Neal. E. Boyd won the hearts and votes of millions. Appearing as a contestant on the wildly popular NBC television program, "America's Got Talent” he was chosen by the viewing audience. After nine weeks of eliminations, he was named the winner of "America’s Got Talent". His first CD release on Decca Records, “My American Dream,” illustrates his positive influences through music. With his talent and compelling life story, he hopes to inspire others to achieve their dreams. Neal's powerful tenor voice had TV audiences in awe as he sang a variety of music, from his moving rendition of Puccini’s "Nessun Dorma," to “Mama” and “Somewhere” (from West Side Story.) His stirring version of "God Bless the USA", and his top four videos have cumulatively earned more than 1.1 million "hits" (and still counting) on YouTube. You can visit Neal at http://www.nealeboyd.com/

Looking forward to coming to Buffalo for her very first time is SARAH PACHECO. "Talented. A class act." is what music legend Tony Bennett remarked after hearing SARAH sing. It's not hard to see why Sarah Pacheco's debut album On Broadway established her as one of music's most exciting new discoveries. Her songs offer deeply compelling evocations of love, loss and heartache, while her voice offers a level of emotional authority and technical fluency that one expects from a veteran performer. She draws elements from pop, jazz and stage musicals delivered with expressive vocals that are both sensitive and seductive. The public voted her winner of the Ontario People's Choice Award for Female Artist Of The Year for two consecutive years. Now the annual Variety Kids Telethon will hear and see what our neighbors to the north and around the world have enjoyed for years. Take a look at Sarah at www.sarahpacheco.com

Chief Dan Daly first came to Western New York to help Variety at the Celebrate America Event which takes place in September each year. Chief Daly was so moved by what Variety does that he wanted to come to the Telethon. Chief Daly is a 24 year veteran of the NY City Fire Department. On Sept. 11, 2001 he responded to Ground Zero. What he saw and felt there on that day, and the days and months that followed changed his life forever.

Dan Daly worked extensively at the scene and, became one of the 100 individuals awarded the NYS Senate Liberty Medal for their efforts.

Since that day, Dan has shared his message of peace, hope and tolerance throughout the United States and the world including speaking on Capitol Hill. At the request of the United States Department of State, and other organizations, Dan has presented his message in over 100 cities across the globe, from Canada to Chile and from Nicaragua to Nepal. His mission has most recently taken him to Guatemala, Hungary, Berlin, Poland and Russia. Learn more about Chief Dan by going to www.chiefdaly.com

Please take a moment on Sunday March 28th from 7am-7pm to call in and make a pledge to the annual Variety Kids Telethon. If you wish you can put your donation on your charge card and receive some very nice premiums for using your charge card. You can make your credit card donation by calling into the Telethon or by going to www.varietykidstelethon.com and clicking the Donate Now button. Once you make your donation, please call a friend of yours and tell them that you helped the kids of Western New York and it made you feel good, made you Help A Child Smile and you want your friend to feel good also.

However you choose to donate the children that benefit from the annual Variety Kids Telethon need the continued support from everyone across Western New York. There is no donation that is too small to help a child. Each and every penny, nickel, dime, quarter and dollar will….. Help Our Kids Smile. On behalf of our kids and the many agencies that take care of them…THANK YOU!

The reason why this labor of love happens every year….the children! Variety’s kids gather near the end of the Telethon to thank everyone that donated and helped.

National Cast member Ilene Graff sings a song to the special children of the Telethon Satellite Division
Residents and staff from Amberleigh Retirement Community present their donation during the Telethon. Residents and staff raised money during various fundrasisers.
National cast Member Terry Buchwald sings “Teddy Bear” to Variety’s special kids
WKBW-TV Am Buffalo co-host Jon Summers talks about the over $15,000 that the Elderwood Homes raised during Telethon 2009