For a total of four decades now, the Variety Club of Iowa Telethon has raised money for the needs of Iowa’s children and the tradition returns this weekend with the annual fundraiser. Sheri McMichael is executive director of Variety Club of Iowa and says this year’s production is a particular thrill. “It is just amazing to me that it’s been 40 years and over those years, we’ve raised over $95-million so we’re pretty excited about this mile marker that we’re making this weekend,” McMichael says.
Last year’s telethon raised $3.6-million from across the state for the Variety Club organization. McMichael says the real stars of the show are Iowa’s children, but the telecast will feature several celebrities. Guests this year include actress Emma Samms, who was on “Dynasty” and “General Hospital,” as well as country music standout Sarah Darling, who’s originally from Des Moines. In years past, the telethon was broadcast on multiple television stations in several Iowa markets.
This year, it will only be airing in central Iowa on WOI-TV, but McMichael says it will be available to everyone online. “For the first time, while we’re not going to be broadcasting on television stations in different parts of the state,” she says, “we are going to be broadcasting live via our website, www.varietytelethon.com.”
McMichael said the money raised helps out numerous organizations that focus on children across Iowa, benefitting 96 different groups with grants between $1,500 and $250,000. The telethon will begin at 7 P.M. running until 3 A.M. Sunday, resuming at 6 A.M. Sunday, running through 6 P.M.