Peyton Burton-Otteson and Gia Han along with OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre mascot Otis have some fun practicing for last year’s 40th annual Share a Smile Telethon at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre. (File photo)

Peyton Burton-Otteson and Gia Han along with OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre mascot Otis have some fun practicing for last year’s 40th annual Share a Smile Telethon at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre. (File photo)

OSNS smashes fundraising goal for 41st Share-a-Smile Telethon

The telethon and online auction raised a combined total of $81,000 to support local kids

With combined donations from the Share-A-Smile-Telethon and their online auction, the Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society (OSNS) and community blew past the $50,000 goal.

After all of the donations and auction sales were tallied, $81,000 was raised for the OSNS, a major boost to the organization after several of their other fundraisers this year were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Funds raised will support programs for the development of children in the South Okanagan.

“It went really well this year, and certainly passed our expectations,” said OSNS executive director Manisha Willms. “It’s a testament to all the community support we had, even in a difficult year.

“Those are the funds that we use to fund all of the things that help make life a little easier for children with developmental challenges. So good equipment for them to work with, innovative programming, we’re really pleased that we’ll be able to continue that work.”

The telethon itself underwent major changes due to the ongoing pandemic and public health mandates; first and foremost being held virtually instead of at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.

READ MORE: Share a Smile Telethon live-streamed this Sunday

The year’s performers, including returning artist Beamer Wigley, had their performances pre-recorded, and the phone banks that usually line the tables in the shopping mall were instead spread out over the volunteers’ individual homes.

“We had about 30 people phone banking for us; Penticton Fire Department helped us, Penticton Toyota helped us, Valley First helped us, RBC helped us and REMAX Penticton helped us from their home phone panels,” said Willms. “Then we had our own clinical team and members from our board, another 10 people from here at the centre.”

COVID-19 impacted not only the OSNS’s telethon, but also the services they provide.

“We’ve had to buy duplicate equipment so that children aren’t sharing equipment, we’ve had to buy more technology so that our clinical staff have mobile devices that they can work virtually from, and like every business the cost of cleaning and sanitizing has increased our expenses,” said Willms. “We’re just so grateful, and this money will help a lot.”

READ MORE: Penticton’s OSNS facing financial crisis amid COVID-19

Just because the telethon is done, the need for the services provided by the OSNS is not, and for people who missed the telethon but would still like to support them, you can.

More information about the OSNS, the services they provide and how to donate to them can be found by going to their website at, by phoning their office at 250-492-0295, or by going to their Child and Youth Development Centre in-person with a mask and after sanitizing.

“Every little bit counts,” said Willms. “We’re grateful for the large donations, but we’re also very grateful for the small donations, and the way that people in this community year-after-year support us in an unfailing way.”

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