DOWNTOWN BUFFALO -- The 48th annual Variety Kids Telethon is well under way in the Grand Ballroom of the Adam's Mark hotel and telethon Chairman Edward Devantier said the phones have really been ringing today.
"We have a lot of different groups in the community coming in and dropping off money," said Devantier, who is also the second vice president of the Variety Club of Buffalo. "Firemen, policemen, unions, schools, business people, and politicians [have donated]."
Last year the telethon raised $1,156,877 for Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo and many other local charities benefiting children that Variety serves.
The bar for this year's 12-hour telethon -- set to conclude at 7 p.m. -- is set just a bit higher, according to Devantier, but the idea is that the telethon will easily exceed 2009's total.
"Our goal for this year is $1 more," said Devantier. "We hope it's a lot more but we start our tote board with zero and the commuity builds that up for us and we just try raising more and more money each year."
The 2010 Variety Kids Telethon stars include Bob Anderson, who was named "Best Singing Impressionist" by People Magazine, ABC Daytime's General Hospital star Brandon Barash, America's Got Talent contestant Neal. E. Boyd, local recording artist Terry Buchwald, FDNY Fire Chief Dan Daly, and of course, Mr. Food.
"Help Our Kids Smile" is the theme of this year's telethon. In addition to calling (716) 558-7575, donors can go online and make their donation, use their charge cards or pick up their cell phones and text donations to Variety’s special children.
1:17 p.m. update: Donations are no longer being received via text message due to technical problems.
1:19 p.m. update: As of now, the telethon, which has been running since 7 a.m. today, has raised $331,000 for Women and Children's Hospital and the Robert Warner M.D. Center for Children with Special Needs.
1:56 p.m. update: Listen to Devantier talk about this year's event:
2:03 p.m. update: Owner of Salvatore's Italian Gardens Restaurant Russell Salvatore just presented a $10,000 check, bringing the telethon total to $362,486 with just under five hours remaining.
7:35 p.m. update: FINAL TOTAL = $1,251,331.
---Lauren Nicole Mariacher