St. Jude Radiothon set for this week
HUNTINGTON -- Start talking country music, and Judy Jennings' engines run full throttle as fast as she can go talking about one of her life's loves.
Change gears to how country music radio stations unite to help the kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, and the passion pours out even greater, like a preacher at a spring tent revival.
In January, at St. Jude Country Cares Seminar, Jennings, regional market manager for Clear Channel, was one of only two people to receive the hospital's "Torchbearer Award." The award honored Jennings for coming up with the idea of "Partners in Hope," and honored WTCR for being one of the 14 original radio stations in the country to carry the St. Jude Radiothon.
Come Thursday and Friday, Jennings and the folks at WTCR-FM, 103.3, as well as Oldies 97.1 will put that love into action again as they air the annual radiothon.
One of the most successful radio fundraising events in America, Country Cares for St. Jude Kids has raised more than $500 million in cash and pledges since the program began in 1989, and more than 200 radio stations across the country have participated.
Locally, to help encourage listeners and Tri-State residents to become Partners in Hope for St. Jude's, station personalities will be out at various locations telling the stories from their recent visit to the Memphis hospital.
From 6 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Cledus T. Judd and Judy Eaton of the Cledus T. Party will be at Tim Horton's on Winchester Avenue in Ashland, along with Woody from Oldies 97.1-FM,
From 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Clint McElroy of WTCR will be at Moe's Southwest Grill in Ashland.
From 6 to 10 a.m. Friday, Cledus and T. Judd and Judy Eaton will be at the Tudor's on U.S. Rt. 60 in Huntington and from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Woody and Clint will be at Bob Evans at the Huntington Mall doing a live broadcast.
Jennings said it has been amazing to see the evolution of St. Jude, the internationally recognized pioneering research hospital which treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases at no cost.
Jennings said WTCR became involved with St. Jude about 30 years ago.
"At first I was sort of dreading it thinking I was going to see a lot of sick children and that I won't be able to cope with the sadness, but it is a place of hope. It is a place where people do get better, and not everyone, but most children do have the opportunity to walk out of St. Jude healed," Jennings said. "And when you walk out of there you are debt free. No one walks out of St. Jude's with a bill."
That innovation at St. Jude has helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened in 1962.
Helping fuel that innovation has been such fundraising ideas as Jennings' idea for "Partners in Hope."
"I was talking to our St. Jude's representative and talking about each year's radiothon and the bucket brigades of pennies and dollars we would get at the mall on that one day, and it seemed to me that if you really wanted to help the children, we had to try and get sponsors of some sort, and it just came out of my mouth that they could be a Partner in Hope."
Jennings said Country Cares has made life-long connections unifying country artists and changing the lives of country artists who've met patients who continue to inspire artists and the music.
Talking about how kids are using Skype and video to stay connected to their friends and classmates, Jennings said she feels the annual radiothon is one of the most important things they do.
"The last time we checked we had 19 children within the Tri-State at St. Jude's and to think we could help save 19 lives," Jennings said. "At the end of the day I am in sales and radio and entertainment and that's fun, but to be able to help save children's lives -- nothing is better than that."
Donate to St. Jude
The number to call to donate to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is 800-372-4999 or log on to tcrcountry.com or oldies971.com.
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