Eagles Telethon could surpass $1 million total at 45th annual event

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It’s certainly likely the metaphorical dollar will be raised during this year’s Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon Saturday, Jan. 25. But there is a good chance, based on previous years’ totals, that the fundraiser could surpass $1 million overall at the 45th annual event. (Telethon file photos)

In honor of caricaturist John Mundt, who passed away in December but was a longtime part of the Eagles Telethon, there will be an easel and two empty chairs set up in the back of the room this year.

Call in during the telethon to have the name of a family member or friend who needs hope of any kind for any reason.

By Correne Martin

 

Each year, for the past 45 years, the goal has been for the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon to raise just one dollar. The annual fundraiser has eclipsed that metaphorical amount hundreds of thousands of times over.

For the 2020 telethon this Saturday, Jan. 25, organizers are, in fact, eyeing the $1 million mark.

A total of $952,743 has been raised over the past 44 years by this televised hometown talent show—meaning, if $47,257 is raised this year, that glorious figure may be met and celebrated.

“This is such a great community effort. If the community of Prairie du Chien wishes to put us into a very unique category, it will. If not, that million will be there again next year,” said Tom Nelson, one of four co-hosts of the event. Others include Tom Stram, Natalie Stram and Dan Moris.

The money raised, from area citizens who live near or have moved afar, is collectively donated toward heart disease and cancer research at the Gundersen Medical Foundation, the UW Carbone Cancer Center, the UW Foundation and Mayo Clinic Health System.

“Our money is being put to good work,” Nelson said. “So many are going to benefit from the work that we do here.”

The Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon is all about the people. It’s broadcast live on local Mediacom channel 6, and online via the website, eaglestelethon.org. All ages and talents come out on one night to share their musical, comical, adorable, knowledgeable and dexterous abilities, live from the Bluff View Intermediate School cafeteria in Prairie du Chien. Many familiar faces will grace the telethon stage, sharing their resources, while new participants are always appreciated and can be snuck into the schedule. In addition, some videos are utilized to educate the public about health, research and the importance of early detection. Then, of course, donations of any amount are encouraged in good faith, or in memory of or in honor of people’s loved ones. Names of those who’ve passed can be added to the Memory Wall backdrop for the show. Also, 10-12 influential auction items are shared on the broadcast, while others are auctioned off at the Eagles Club.

The commercial-free show occurs from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Concessions are offered on site. If not attending in person, viewers can watch from numerous in-town businesses, including the Eagles Club on Beaumont Road, which is the hub of more fun activities, food and drinks for the community that night.

To make a donation toward this year’s fundraiser, visit eaglestelethon.org, and click “donate.” There, tax-deductible contributions can be made by way of PayPal and a credit card online, or a paper form can be downloaded and mailed in with a check. Or, donors may wait until the evening of the telethon and call in.

One special part of the telethon this Saturday will be a moment in memory of John Mundt, Esquire, titled, “The Vision: Seeing us as we were meant to be,” at 8:25 p.m. Mundt was a Prairie du Chien resident and locally-famed caricature artist who was, for many years, seated at the back of the room during the live telethon, creating drawings of attendees. He passed away suddenly in December.

“Anybody who has had his caricature drawings done is asked to bring them to the “studio” at Bluff View in time for the 8:25 feature, when they will be held up for the cameras,” Nelson said. “If you’re watching from home and you have one, hold your caricature up in front of the TV.”

Also, all night, an easel and two empty chairs will be in the back of the room, paying homage to the man who was a dedicated community contributor.

This correlates well with the 2020 theme, Nelson noted, which is “We are among friends.”

In typical Tom Nelson sentimental fashion, yellow Chips of Hope have been made with the Heart & Cancer Telethon and Eagles Aerie 1502 logo on them. On the back side, carriers are reminded that these chips are a source of hope from this cause.

“It’s still the simple things out there in life that we need sometimes,” Nelson stated. “We all need a little bit of hope, whether we’re scared to death to go to the doctor because of an illness or pain, whether we’re taking a test we didn’t study for, or whether we just need a sunshiny day. As people go out with these in hand, I wish they might spread a little bit of hope and good cheer.”

As Saturday draws near, everyone is encouraged to bring forward their time, talents and treasures to make a difference in the lives of others. As they say around the Eagles Club, it’s for the “Good of the Order to all.”

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