For those who spend their days working with children at the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre, Saturday (Nov. 26) was the most special day of the year.
There were local business leaders, musicians, dancers and even hockey players who walked through the doors of Penticton’s Cherry Lane Mall for one reason on Saturday — to support the 43rd annual Share a Smile Telethon and embrace the cause of pediatric rehabilitation.
The Penticton-based fundraiser returned with live entertainment, activities and storytelling as the OSNS centre aimed on raising $100,000 to ensure kids with developmental challenges get the treatment they need. By the end of the day, organizers got to announce the good news.
With funds still coming in, the Telethon raised $103,040, with that total expected to go a bit higher.
“We live in a difficult world right now and this type of event and the community’s support for it makes me hopeful and optimistic,” said Manisha Willms, the executive director at the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre.
The event featured parents of OSNS sharing how the centre’s services have made a difference in their lives in front of those both attending in person and watching television.
One parent described the services at OSNS as life-changing in reference to her son, who’s one of 1,600 kids in the South Okanagan to visit the centre annually.
“When your child is struggling, it’s such a generosity to share that struggle and tell people how it is at home,” Willms said. “When parents can come on stage and tell their story, that is such a beautiful thing.”
Hosted by Chad Mielke, the telethon was broadcasted live on Shaw Spotlight Cable 11 and Blue Curve Channel 105, from 12:30 to 5 p.m.
It’s the centre’s most important event, according to Willms, who adds that money can be used for the development of new programs.
“Having an event like this where people can donate and we can use it for the needs of children is fantastic,” she said. “For example, we really have a need right now for youth programming for children who are struggling with social communication skills.”
Willms says an event like the Telethon helps the centre deliver programs that suit the needs of all children but also for the purchasing of new equipment.
“Sometimes we apply for grants and that’s great and useful, but it’s for a specific thing at the centre and sometimes there’s a need for a new piece of equipment or if something breaks, we’d need to replace it. The money from here will be used for all those needs that come up.”
Along with the live entertainment on stage, the Share a Smile Telethon featured an online auction and in-person donation opportunities. People were also encouraged to call a direct number to make contributions over the phone.
Groups across the region donated special items for the auction, including entries into the 2023 Okanagan Granfondo and a round of golf at the Summerland Golf and Country Club.
As of Saturday afternoon, the online auction has raised more than $14,200.
A final count of the funds raised during Saturday’s event at the mall will be revealed later in the weekend.