COVID can’t stop nation’s longest-running local telethon

In the News

With tremendous help from donors, corporations, and volunteers, a total of $1,421,757 was raised during the 67th annual CP Telethon March 6-7 at WBAY-TV in Green Bay.

The two-day event raised money for CP, which helps people in Northeast Wisconsin with a variety of needs, such as therapy, aquatic exercise, childcare, and adult day services.

“CP Telethon is more than just fundraising. It’s really about advocating for what CP is and what it does for our clients,” said Maddie Szymanski, a Philanthropy Advisor for CP. “And bringing the community together to show our clients that we’re still here for them and we’re supporting them and their families all year long, even in the middle of a pandemic.”

Just days after last year’s telethon, the shutdown happened. After a few weeks, the organization found a way to bring therapy and services to its clients virtually and later with home visits. CP eventually reopened in May with new protocols in place to keep staff and clients safe.

“Canceling the telethon was not an option. We just had to figure out the safest way to do it,” said Steve Lavin, General Manager of WBAY. “Fewer people were allowed into WBAY’s auditorium during the actual telethon. A lot of the entertainment and client interviews were recorded in advance and played back during the telethon. And we still had some live interviews, but many of those were done virtually rather than in-person.”

There were still plenty of volunteers who helped take pledges. CP officials say safety was the top priority this year, making sure everyone wore masks and stayed socially distanced. To keep that social distancing in place, 26 people per panel took pledges, equaling about 365 volunteers, throughout the entire telethon.

The total raised during the two-day event was about $30,000 short of last year’s record-breaking total, but still impressive, especially during a pandemic. The money raised during the telethon supports CP’s operations and programs throughout the year.

“We had to make a lot of changes this year, but one thing that didn’t change – the generosity of the community,” Lavin said.