|Sarah Kopasz, 2010 Celebrity Child rides her own bike for the very first time. The specially adaptive bike was presented to Sarah as a gift from Variety and Freedom Concepts|
On Sunday March 6, 2011, WKBW-TV will televise the 49th 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.
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 49th consecutive, is the longest locally produced Telethon in the world.
Variety Kids Telethon 2010, raised over $1.2 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 does 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.
Within the organization 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 2010, the following are organizations received support: Big Brothers & Big Sisters, BornHava, Boys & Girls Clubs of East Aurora, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns, Boys & Girls Club of Holland, Buffalo Hearing & Speech, Camp Good Days & Special Times, CAPS, Inc., CHC Learning Center, Children's Growth Foundation, Cradle Beach Camp, Delta Sonic/Pizza Hut/ Variety Youth Hockey, Depew-Lancaster Boys and Girls Club, Excalibur Leisure Skills, Franciscan Center, , Genesee County ARC, Heritage Center, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center, Make-A-Wish, Moving Miracles, SABAH, St. Mary's School for the Deaf, Springville Pre-School Learning Center, Variety Camping Program, and the Variety at Work Program.
The 49th annual Variety Kids Telethon on Sunday March 6 will have something for everyone. The theme of the 2011 Telethon is Making Good Things Happen Every Day…For “OUR” Kids!. The Variety Kids Telethon is proud to introduce six year old Gracie Joyce as 2011 Celebrity Child. In six short years, Gracie has overcome more than the average person faces in a lifetime.
Daughter of Michael and Alicia Joyce and sister to Madalyne,
Gracie was born six weeks prematurely on October 21, 2004 at Women’s
and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo,
Gracie spent the first five weeks of her life undergoing extensive testing and two blood transfusions in the NICU. She was diagnosed with an array of disorders and syndromes, including pulmonary insufficiency, respiratory distress syndrome, hypoglycemia, bilateral IVII grade one, apnea/bradycardia of prematurity, nutritional support, bilateral periventricular cyst, prematurity, anemia of prematurity, abnormal newborn screen, enterovirus viral infection, hyperbilirubinemia, and group B strep, as well as grade 2 and 3 urine reflux.
With her constant screams and stiff body, it was quickly evident that Gracie was struggling in her development. Gracie began to crawl at 17 ½ months, and at 18 months, she was referred to the Robert Warner Center for Evaluation. Here, she was diagnosed with a form of brain damage called Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL), and mild Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy,as well as Accommodative Esotropia, a visual diagnosis.
After extensive physical therapy, Botox treatments, and the use of Ankle-foot Orthoses (AFOs) to reduce the spasticity in her legs, Gracie began walking with the assistance of a walker at three years old and independently six months later.
At five, Gracie underwent Selective Dorsal Rhizhotomy Surgery
at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo to reduce the
spasticity in her cerebral palsy. She stayed in the ICU for a week until
being transported to a rehabilitation center in Rochester for
Gracie is currently in first grade at Pinehurst Elementary School, where she is working on achieving her dreams to become a teacher, dancer, or fashion designer. Her personality and spirit outweigh her disabilities tenfold. Aside from her schoolwork, Gracie enjoys playing with her friends, swimming, collecting jewels and gems, playing with the family dog, Pupcake, and ice skating with SABAH, a therapeutic ice-skating organization for individuals with special needs. She also continues to undergo physical therapy five times a week.
Thanks to the Robert Warner M.D. Center for Children with Special Needs and Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, the sky is the limit for Gracie. She truly is an inspiration to all, representing the thousands of children the Variety Kids Telethon helps each year. For the time being Gracie will enjoy being your 2011 Variety Kids Telethon Celebrity child!
A round of applause goes to the 2011 Telethon Chairman, Patricia Somogye! Variety - The Children's Charity of Buffalo and Western New York could not have chosen a more adept candidate to represent our children this year. Pat's selfless contributions began in 1982 when her mother and member, Helen Jacob, asked her to answer phones for the Variety Kids Telethon; an annual event broadcast each year on Channel 7. This inspiring and heartwarming event "Varietized" Pat, and she's been involved ever since.
Beginning with events like Bingo, selling hot dogs at Sam's Club Labor Day weekend, running a table at Lombardo's for the Italian Festival and helping her mother's spaghetti dinner for the Armed Forces, Pat was soon considered an indispensible force in the Variety Family. She went on to Co-Chair the Variety Club Women's Cocktail Party, serve as Chief Barker in 1994-95, and act as previous Telethon Chairman in 1998 - the same year she was named "Person of the Year."
Patty has chosen Joseph and Paula Salvatore, owners of Salvatore’s Italian Gardens to serve as the honorary Chairpersons. This is the first time in the history of the Telethon that a couple has been chosen. Joe and Paula have been involved with Variety in the past by hosting various fundrasisers at the restaurant and participating in many of Variety’s activities. Joe and Paula have been very involved this year and are looking forward to doing all they can to help the success of the Telethon.
Telethon weekend will be very busy in Western New York. On Friday March 4th the Satellite Division will hold its annual Telethon Kick-off Dinner at the Adam’s mark Hotel. It is a fabulous dinner and afterwards the entire National cast puts on a little show. Saturday March 5 will feature the 19th 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 6th annual A Salute To The Kids: Concert With The Stars at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda. 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, or purchasing them at the Riviera Theatre Box Office or Budwey’s Supermarkets.
Speaking of the cast, the stars are coming in to Make Good Things Happen For “OUR” Kids. Las Vegas Superstar and Farnham, New York native CLINT HOLMES comes back to help the kids! Known for his big hit Playground In My Mind, Clint has appeared many times over the 49 years of the annual Telethon. This 8 time Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year is sure to help the kids
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 4th 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.terrybuchwald.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 Western New York’s MORE THAN ME. More Than Me competed with hundreds of bands throughout the US and Canada but in the end, there could be only one! Spurred on by a grass roots movement by the fans of MTM and the Western New York community as a whole, and the Facebook community, the band won the competition by being judged by music fans around the world via an online voting competition and a panel of judges. The prize…opening for Sir Paul McCartney in London, England. They have toured around the world and are taking time out of their current tour to come home for the kids. Check out their website at www.morethanme.me
Standing at seven feet tall, MATT MORGAN joins the variety Kids Telethon family for the first time. makes an impression no matter where he goes. "The Blue Print" Matt Morgan is an athlete and an actor. Look for Matt to wrestle his way into the hearts of our kids and the wallets of our viewers.
Many don't realize the amount of acting that goes into pro wrestling and Morgan was confident he could demonstrate just how conditioned actors wrestlers were. While he was in Italy, Morgan was cast in a movie called "Hercules". This would be the first of many Morgan would to go on to perform in. The wrestling bug was far from dead though as he wrestled throughout Europe and Japan during his down time.
Back in the states, a new wrestling company had received a chance to perform on a cable network. It was October 2005 to in which Total Nonstop Action Wrestling signed a deal with Spike TV. This caught Morgan's attention and he wanted to find his way to the company. He would do so in 2006. Morgan still wrestles for TNA and now not only referred to as "The Blue Print" Matt Morgan but also as "The DNA of TNA".
Morgan's acting career is also far from finished. Not only has he appeared in several indy movies but in September of 2010 Morgan was a featured actor on an episode of the Fox TV Series "The Good Guys". This appearance has led to several other outside projects and appearances still in development. Learn more about Matt at www.tnawrestling.com
Joining the Variety Kids Telethon for the first time is the beautiful Natalie Hall, who plays Colby Chandler on ABC’s All My Children seen locally at 1:00pm on Channel 7.
Natalie Hall joined the cast of All My Children as the feisty Colby Chandler in 2009. Though Ms. Hall may be new to the daytime community, she is a triple treat in the entertainment world. She acts, sings and dances. Prior to being cast as Colby, Ms. Hall appeared as Val in the National Tour of the highly-acclaimed musical A Chorus Line. She has also appeared on various primetime dramas such as The Good Wife and Law & Order: SVU.
ABC describes her character as the ultimate poor little rich girl. She may be able to buy a new wardrobe every week, but that doesn't buy happiness. With a family as dysfunctional as the Chandlers, it's no wonder Colby's still struggling to find her way.
Natlaie will not have any problem finding her way into the hearts of the kids that benefit from the annual Variety Kids Telethon.
Please take a moment on Sunday March 6th 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. For the first time ever you can also Text a $10 donation to SARAH at 20222. Once you make your donation, please call a friend of yours and tell them that you helped to Make Good Things Happen Every Day for the Kids of Western New York and it made you feel good, 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….. be Making Good Things Happen Every Day…For “OUR” Kids!. On behalf of our kids and the many agencies that take care of them…THANK YOU!