May 28, 2009 — For 25 years, the University of Virginia Children's Hospital Telethon has been bringing inspirational and unforgettable stories of children and their families who have received loving care, hope and cutting-edge medicine at U.Va. Children's Hospital.
The 25th annual U.Va. Children's Hospital Telethon will air live on WVIR-TV NBC29 on Saturday from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. This year's telethon will remember the past, celebrate the present and look to the future of pediatric medicine.
The broadcast, which raises funds to benefit U.Va.'s young patients, will feature stories of courage from children and families who have beaten remarkable odds. The telethon also will highlight advancements made in pediatric health care over the last 25 years, as well as future innovations.
One story features Mason Ikirt, often referred to by his caregivers as "Miracle Mason." At just 2 1/2 years old, Mason came down with a simple cold which escalated into a rare form of pneumonia, followed by kidney failure, 18 blood transfusions, 11 dialysis treatments, 12 strokes, pancreatitis and heart failure. Mason spent three months at U.Va. Children's Hospital's Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center relearning the basics of life – how to hold his head up, sit up, stand, walk, talk, and eat, after a devastating series of illnesses. Now 4, Mason is happy and healthy and almost 100 percent recovered, thanks to the faith of his family and the dedicated staff at KCRC.
The telethon also will welcome back popular hosts Dave Cupp, former WVIR-TV anchor, and Robert van Winkle, former WVIR-TV weatherman, both of whom still hold the event close to their hearts. A number of other distinguished guests will also be on hand to take calls and visit patients, including Lindsay Shoop, U.Va. Olympic gold medalist in rowing; Miss Virginia, Tara Wheeler; U.Va. women's basketball players; U.Va. men's basketball coach Tony Bennett; and U.Va. football coach Al Groh.
This year's telethon will support the Barry and Bill Battle Building at U.Va. Children's Hospital, renovations in primary care, special programs for children and families, life-saving pediatric research, and toys and games for young patients.
Before the telethon kicks off, Klöckner-Pentaplast of America will host the 25th annual Walk for Kids. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and the three-mile walk begins at The Park (located near the Law School at U.Va.'s North Grounds) at 9 a.m. For information on the Walk for Kids, and for a pledge sheet, call 434-924-8432 or visit www.uvachildrensevents.org.
U.Va. Children's Hospital is one of the premier children's hospitals serving the mid-Atlantic region, recording more than 100,000 patient visits annually. Children and families come from across Virginia and neighboring states. For specialty care, they come from across the U.S. and beyond.
The U.Va. Children's Hospital Telethon is part of the nationally broadcast Children's Miracle Network Telethon. Aside from the local segments, viewers also will see national performances from well-known entertainment personalities and celebrities. For information or to make a telethon gift, call 434-924-8432 or go to www.campaign.virginia.edu/chtelethon.