ST. JUDE TREE: Anyone who visits K-Kountry 95 in Thayer knows they have a tree in the lobby that is decorated for whatever season or event that is taking place in the community. This month the tree is filled with pictures of St. Jude children.
AREA -- The annual K-Kountry 95 St. Jude Radiothon will be Feb. 15.
The first year K-Kountry 95 participated in the radiothon, the station raised $8,000. That was in 1985. Last year the station raised $121,000 and was named the number one fundraising station for St. Jude per capita in the United States.
Mike Crase has served as coordinator for the event for 17 years. "The first three or four years our fundraising efforts stayed right around $8,000. Employees from the radio station began attending seminars put on by the hospital and learned how to involve the community. That's when we really began to see the difference," Crase said.
The hours for this year's event will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Caterpiller of Pomona and The Bank of Thayer are the 2006 corporate sponsors.
"This is the only day all year The Ozark Radio Network allows us and our sister station KSPQ in West Plains to break from our normal broadcasting format. We will still bring the news and weather as we always do, but our regular music will be replaced by officials from St. Jude, country artists that support are efforts and local people and businesses that bring donations to the station," Crase said.
He said volunteers are already in place to man the phones that day and many names are on a waiting list wanting to help in any way they can. "For the last 10 years Pastor Joby Steele and parishioners of the Macedonia Baptist Church at Alton have ended our radiothon by answering the phones. Several traditions like that have been started because of the radiothon," he said.
Crase said for many in the area the fundraiser is near and dear to their hearts. He said many families in the Oregon County/Mammoth Spring area have been touched by children with cancer who have had to use the services the hospital offers.
"In recent years some of the local children who have been patients of the hospital include Brittany Allen, Cullen Crawford and Madison Bowers of Thayer, Amber Dern of Koshkonong, and Jessie McCradic and Tennessee Curtis of Mammoth Spring," he said.
Many events are scheduled for the day of the radiothon. Crase said all five area schools -- Alton, Couch, Koshkonong, Mammoth Spring and Thayer -- are involved in fundraising efforts. "For example, Alton Elementary School students will be laying quarters down side-by-side by the miles. Their goal is to raise $1,500. If they do that it will mean each child at the school has donated to St. Jude. I challenged them to raise $3,000 and I hope they do," he said.
Crase said most donations come the Oregon/Fulton County area. He said Sharp County in Arkansas and West Plains have also played an important part in the radiothon.
Some of the other activities involved during the fundraiser include a mini-cedar chest made by Daniel Bowers, the father of cancer patient Madison Bowers. Crase said Bowers made the chest by hand from start to finish.
"We think we are going to leave the chest at the station and when groups, people and businesses bring in their donations the day of the radiothon we will put them in the chest. It will be interesting to see how much money the chest will hold," he said.
Another full size cedar chest made by Bowers is currently on display at The Alton Bank. It will be at other locations until Feb 15. Then it will be brought back to the station and given away at 8 p.m. the evening of the radiothon. Tickets are now on sale for the chest. Crase said the elder Bowers made the chest in honor of his daughter, Amber.
Ray Dern, grandpa of cancer patient Amber Dern, has donated half a hog, and Jim Scott from Koshkonong has donated half a beef that will be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the event.
Crase said some of the other fundraising activities and where they will occur include:
Thayer: H&R Block will make a donation for every tax prepared in their office through April 15; Nelson Tire will donate $6 for every new tire sold Feb. 8 through Feb. 15. They will also donate half the price of any used tire sold, half the cost of any flat repair and the entire price of any rotation or balance work done during the same time period. Great Southern Bank has a fishing pond set up in the bank and invites everyone to throw their change in the "Wishing Children Wellness" fishing pond.
Mammoth Spring: St. Jude Day at Fred's Fish House was Feb. 7. Orders from the menu were donated to St. Jude. Tax Center of America will donate $7 for every tax refund filed through their office.
Alton: Alton Florist will donate $1 for every dozen roses sold on Valentines Day. On Feb. 3 the Alton Quick Connection donated 3 cents for every gallon of gas sold.
Birch Tree: Main Street Grocery will donate 20 cents for every 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi sold Feb. 15.
Highland: Carol's Clothing and Interior will make a donation for every prom or wedding dress sold through Feb. 15.
Ash Flat: B Morris Limited will donate $10 for every tax return prepared for a senior in high school. The Family Fitness Center will donate $5 for every new membership through Feb. 15.
Crase said K-95 and KSPQ are charter members of the County Cares program. It is one of the largest fundraising programs for the hospital. Crase said since its beginning in 1989 over $200 million has been raised by the radio program across the country. He said Country Cares for St. Jude Kids was the brainchild of Alabama lead singer Randy Owens.
"What has made our efforts successful is not this radio station. We have simply given people in our area a vehicle through which to make a donation. Our businesses and our people of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri give that vehicle a push to make it happen," Crase said.
Crase said St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. It was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas and is based in Memphis, Tenn.