The event has successfully galvanized Saskatchewan people for more than three-and-a-half decades, and it has become synonymous with raising millions of dollars to meet the medical needs of Saskatchewan people.
Telemiracle 37 will happen March 2 and 3 in Saskatoon. Members of Saskatchewan's Kinsmen and Kinettes clubs, including Estevan's clubs, will gather for the 20-hour fundraiser, which will start at 9 p.m. on the 2nd and continue until 5 p.m. on the 3rd.
About a dozen members of the local Kinsmen and Kinettes will be travelling to Saskatoon for the event. Local Kinette Susan Colbow, who serves as the regional representative on the Telemiracle Foundation's board, said the Kin members will be busy throughout the 20 hours.
“We'll be messengers – just running around and taking people where they need to go, and taking papers and such where they need to go,” said Colbow. “Some will be answering phones, and some will be tote board supervisors. They'll be with the high school students when they put the numbers up on the tote board.”
There'll be entertainment throughout the broadcast. Prominent entertainers from Saskatchewan, Canada and the U.S. will be joined by singers, dancers and musicians from throughout the province who want to lend their talents to Telemiracle.
Last year's broadcast set an off-air record by raising more than $5.9 million.
People who benefit from Telemiracle might be in need of a scooter, a wheelchair or a van conversion, Colbow said. Communities apply to the Telemiracle Foundation for funding for a handi-van.
“It's really surprising how much a scooter will make a difference to someone's life,” said Colbow. “They can be house-bound, because they can't get around, and they don't have any family around. In the summer time they can walk, but in the winter time, they can't.”
Once people receive a scooter, it changes their life, Colbow said.
Others have benefitted because money raised at Telemiracle has been directed towards expenses associated with out-of-town medical trips. The foundation has covered expenses for travel, accommodations and food for people who have to go larger centres for an operation, a transplant, cancer treatments, or other needs.
“I don't know what people do in other provinces,” said Colbow. “People have to relocate to another city for sometimes up to six months, so they have to pay for all their bills at home, and they have to relocate and pay for rent for a place where they have to stay for the six months while they have their treatment.”
In the past five months, Colbow said they have dealt with about 117 applications, and allocated over $600,000, from people in southeast Saskatchewan.
Colbow's time on the Telemiracle board has given her even greater appreciation of the role that Telemiracle plays in the province. When people apply for funding, their application goes to the Telemiracle head office in Saskatoon. The head office then distributes the applications to the board members.
Board members then have to study the information, and decide whether they should approve the application. The board meets every six weeks in Saskatoon. Board members have to be advocates for the projects in their region.
Colbow said they have to promote the applications to the rest of the board, to let them know why they think people's requests should be funded.
“The best part of being on the board of directors is when you phone people and tell them 'I got you funding for your scooter,' or 'I got you some money so you can travel to Edmonton for your heart transplant or your lung transplant,'” said Colbow.
It's always exciting to raise the money at Telemiracle, Colbow said, but it's also a thrill to be able to turn that money over to the people of Saskatchewan.
Local Kin members have been busy fundraising for Telemiracle. Their efforts started last summer, when the Kinsmen Club hosted its inaugural golf tournament.
In terms of more recent projects, the Kinsmen and Kinettes were at a matinee at the Orpheum Theatre on February 10, where they sold the Telemiracle hands and gave away prizes to children. The Orpheum donated some money, too, Colbow said. Kinettes served dessert at Spruce Ridge School on February 13 as part of the school's Showcase performance.
The Kin clubs will be hosting a steak night on February 15 at The Beef Bar. Tickets cost $20 for a steak supper and a beverage.
Finally, on February 22, they'll be at the CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins game, where they'll be selling hands and giving away more prizes to children in attendance.