AREA -- The annual K-Kountry 95 St. Jude Radiothon will be Feb. 14.
The first year K-Kountry 95 participated in the radiothon, the station raised $8,000. That was in 1985. Last year the station raised $141,000 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 18 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.
He said that first year 25 radio stations from across the country attended the initial meeting. "Last year, 200 stations and more than 900 people were there," he said.
The hours for this year's event will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Caterpillar of Pomona and The Bank of Thayer are the 2007 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 our 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.
Crase said this year the station has set a goal of $150,000.
"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, last year Alton Elementary School students laid quarters down side-by-side by the mile," he said.
Crase said most donations come from the Oregon/Fulton County area. He said Sharp County in Arkansas and West Plains have also played an important part in the radiothon.
Crase said a mini cedar chest made by Daniel Bowers, the father of cancer patient Madison Bowers, remains at the radio station. Crase said Bowers made the entire chest by hand from start to finish.
"We have left 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.
Bowers has also made and donated a gun cabinet that will be sold by donation the day of the radiothon.
All donations toward the cabinet will be given to St. Jude in honor of his daughter Madison and Cullen Crawford. The gun cabinet will be given away Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. The cabinet is on display at FNBC south of Mammoth Spring.
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 return prepared in their office through April 15; a ton of fertilizer has been donated by Thayer Plant Food to be sold by donation, with all proceeds going to St. Jude; Thayer Lanes will have a Sweethearts For St. Jude Doubles Nine Pin No Tap Tournament Feb. 3 and Feb. 4; Shady Oaks and Thayer's quilt class has made a quilt that will be given away the day of the radiothon (It is on display at Shady Oaks); and Mike Crase has donated a Gretchen Wilson guitar that will be auctioned off the day of the radiothon with proceeds going to St. Jude.
Mammoth Spring: St. Jude Day at Fred's Fish House will be Feb. 6. Orders from the menu will be donated to St. Jude. Crase said in the last 10 or 11 years Fred's has donated $100,000 to the hospital. Mammoth Spring Bank will donate $5 for every Christmas Club Account opened the day of the radiothon.
Mammoth Spring Floral Express will make a donation to St. Jude for every rose sold on Valentine's Day.
Highland: Mr. Oily will donate $2 for every oil change made Feb. 14; Highland Academy of Cosmetology will donate 25 percent of what they make Feb. 14 to St. Jude.
Alton: Alton Florist will donate $1 for every dozen roses sold on Valentine's Day.
Hardy: Millers Leather will make a donation to St. Jude for every belt clip sold the day of the radiothon.
Salem: The Bank of Salem will donate $5 for every Christmas Club Account they open Feb. 14.
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 $300 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.Crase said although telephone people are already in place for the radiothon, volunteers are still needed in other areas. He said to call Peggy Underwood at the radio station at 264-7211 to volunteer.