As The Easter Seals Rotary Telethon was wrapping up for another successful year, Mother Nature was reminding us all, that anything goes when it comes to springtime in The Sault. One thing that remains constant, is the generosity of the community of Sault & District.
The 31st Annual Easter Seals Telethon,driven in partnership with The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, numerous community groups, schools, organizations, businesses & individuals, pledges had recorded a Grand Total $124,040 .
Tessa Vecchio and Jeff McNeice were back again to take the helm of the live Shaw TV broadcast, March 29th, 2015 from 12-7 pm.
The local telethon started 31 years ago. Shannon Gowans was part of the Easter Seals Telethons’ inaugural year in 1983. She continues to be a champion for The Easter Seals Campaign. Both as an advocate, and as a person with intimate knowledge of the value of Easter Seals, Shannon has grown up with Easter Seals as part of her life.
Shannon Gowans was in the co-hosting chair with Jacob Crausley-Wilkins. The two were kept very busy sharing live broadcast (ShawTV) updates on pledges as they were coming in. Shannon and Jacob also greeted, interviewed and acknowledged the continual stream of school communities & groups coming into the City Hall Council Chambers. Several young people and families made their way down to the iconic structure on the St.Mary’s River waterfront, City Hall ,to present over-sized cheque pledges.
Shannon shared insight into some of the financial costs associated with devices for mobility and communication. “Mobility devices,like an electric wheelchair,for example, are very expensive.” adding “They can run upwards of $25,000”. Shannon spoke about the Easter Seals Childrens Camps. “There are 2 Easter Seals Camps in Ontario. Perth and London area where children can go for up to 10 days.” The Easter Seals organization supports a substantial portion of the cost for children to be able to attend summer camp. “Families are asked to contribute only what they can afford.”
The Easter Seals, together with The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie, numerous community groups, and volunteers, businesses and individual pledges continue to bring generous financial support for children through the Telethon each year. Easter Seals will gain financial resources locally, in order to support kids going to summer camp, have access to assistive devices for mobility, communication, and much more. Easter Seals supports individual needs a child and family may have as they navigate issues specific to living with a disability.
Katie Hewgill, Easter Seals Ambassador,2008, shared that “Easter Seals has helped me go to Camp Merrywood, medical visits to Toronto Sick Kids, and assisted me with my wheelchair.” Katie and mom Mary, were helping to ‘man’ the telethon phone lines. They make a good team.
Rotary members Richard DiLorenzi, Norman Candelori and Angie DiGasparro were helping to direct traffic,as new individuals and groups came up to City Hall,pledges in hand. “This is one of our favourite things” shared Derek Walz, President, Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie. “Supporting Easter Seals, supporting kids” he said “There’s nothing better than that.”
Easter Seals Campaigns are also an opportunity for communities to be reminded of accessibility as an issue. Sidewalks,roads,curbs,entrances to buildings, outdoor and indoor spaces. These are all pieces of the story for families and children living with disabilities.
Easter Seals Ambassadors, and champions, children and their families, continue to advocate for opportunities for children “to just be children”, as shared by Shannon Gowan. “Easter Seals Camps provide the ideal space for young people to kick back and have some fun.” Indeed. Summer Camp is a right of passage. Kumbaya.
To find out more about Easter Seals, including camps visit: http://www.eastersealscamps.org/