“Way over the top,” was the pleasantly surprising result of Sunday’s 37th Annual Share-A-Smile Telethon.
When all the smoke had cleared in the makeshift studio in the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre gym, the final figure was an astounding, recorded-breaking total of, $74,327.91 far surpassing the goals and expectations of organizers.
Read more: Telethon critical for Okanagan children
“It really was astonishing, last year we had $52,000,” said a tired but jubilant Manisha Willms, OSNS executive director afterwards. “It was such a team effort, the energy was fantastic, the donors, the volunteers. Our board members, staff were all here. We had amazing live acts and just such a fun day that we all got swept up into it and we’re enormously grateful.”
Broadcast live on Shaw TV and streamed online on the centre’s website, the five-hour program got underway at noon and the totals continued rising until the program’s end at 5 p.m.
For the second year the telethon included an online auction but the difference this time around was the much larger of menu items of goods and services generously donated by local businesses and which brought in thousands of dollars.
“What I always try to reflect on at the end of these events is that ultimately this will change the lives of children and that’s the important piece,” said Willms. “Every bit of the funds we were able to raise will go directly to improving the treatment and the quality of what the children of the South Okanagan receive.
“So to me that is the really heart warming part and I am just so really thankful from the bottom of my heart for the manner in which everybody pitched in.”
OSNS board chair Tyler Chick added: “As a board member, it truly warms my heart to see how many community partners come out to support this event, whether it is goods and services, time spent, or donations over the phone. What we have here is truly amazing.”
Among the many people who stopped by in person to drop off a donation was Cheryl Latimer and her four-year-old son Lyndon Start.
“We’re here today because Lyndon just started (at OSNS) they’ve just amazingly helped us so much,” said Latimer. “It’s a hard, hard transition and it’s a great organization.”
Mare McHale and longtime centre friend Dennis Walker co-hosted the afternoon which featured a number of panel volunteers from businesses and community organizations taking the calls from people wishing to donate.
The goal of OSNS is to maximize the potential of all children helping over 1200 kids annually, many facing significant developmental challenges.
The Centre operates early treatment services, autism diagnosis and treatment, family support, Kinderplace Pre-school, and KinderBear Daycare. Treatment services are delivered at the centre and throughout the South Okanagan Similkameen through the mobile outreach programs.