UWP telethon planning underway

October 24, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-With brightly-colored jack-o-lanterns and friendly ghosts gracing people's yards, thoughts of Christmas play a distant second to Halloween in the minds of most, but students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville are already getting in the spirit of giving, planning the 2002 Christmas Telethon for Wisconsin Badger Camp.

Whether you're a UWP student who volunteered to help with the annual telethon or a camper who spent many a happy day at the Prairie du Chien area camp for people with developmental disabilities, Badger Camp holds special memories for many. That's why this year's theme for the telethon is "Making Memories."

The telethon will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, cablecasted in approximately 30 area communities. With nearly 200 students volunteering their time each year to help with the telethon, planning begins early.

"Students began planning the 2002 telethon in early spring," said Colleen Garrity, director of UWP Television Services. "This summer, students spent time at Badger Camp shooting footage for the video packages played during the telethon. The video packages range from clips of the camp and its activities to history, UWP involvement and volunteer involvement."

Each year, a core group of students is chosen to organize and produce all aspects of the telethon. This year's core group includes Ed Nelson of Eagan, Minn., Mike Lange of Green Bay, John Reuter of Hastings, Minn., Scott Abing of Cassville, Andrea Rider of Prairie du Chien and Michelle DeGrand of Moses Lake, Wash. The Christmas telethon provides a volunteer opportunity for students, encompassing all areas of education from accounting and communication to engineering and industrial studies.

Currently, core group members are searching for talent to perform during the telethon and are sending out letters to UWP alumni who may be interested in participating in the telethon. Auditions for UWP students interested in being a host during the telethon will also be held soon.

"Now through the time when the telethon is held is our busiest time," Garrity said. "We're in the process of finishing posters, producing an infomercial that is shown immediately before the telethon airs, organizing a publicity night, working on sets, perfecting our auction graphics, holding hosts auditions, searching for talent and finalizing a lot of other details for the telethon."

Although no fundraising goal is set for the telethon, last year $53,000 was raised for Badger Camp during the two-day production. Proceeds of the cablecast go toward sponsoring "camperships" or scholarships at Badger Camp.

While the telethon benefits Badger Camp by providing funds that enable more people to attend the camp, students also learn much from the experience.

"The telethon provides our students with the opportunity to be involved in a large-scale, live production," Garrity said. "Not only does producing the telethon provide great hands-on experience for students in broadcasting and communications, but all aspects of education are encompassed in putting on a production of this type."

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