This weekend the Cut Off Youth Center will be abuzz with excitement and activity. Cameras will be rolling, bringing the entire event into our living rooms live! There isn’t a script for the two days of live, on-screen entertainment, but the much-needed event is planned out many, many months in advance.
Hundreds of performers, volunteers and residents of lower Lafourche make the Cerebral Palsy Telethon a reality and with ever increasing success year after year!
Cerebral Palsy of Louisiana assures that anyone living within the state has access to funds needed to help cover the cost of caring for this condition. Cerebral Palsy isn’t a disease and should never be referred to as one. You can’t contract, transmit or cure this condition, which is brought on by damage to a child’s brain either during pregnancy, labor or shortly after birth.
Each client enrolled with CP of LA receives $2,000 annually to help offset their treatment and costs and can be used for almost anything.
Cerebral Palsy of Louisiana is an independent, non-profit health organization dedicated to helping children and adults afflicted by Cerebral Palsy within our state and communities. The organization provides assistance with the purchase, rental and repayment of durable medical equipment. The organization also helps fund payments for physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as prescription shoes and evaluations, without every charging their client’s any cost. Any person living with cerebral palsy in the state of Louisiana qualifies for these services.
That’s where our local Telethon comes in!
“We usually raise between $75,000-$100,000 with our telethon here in Cut Off,” says Ashley Barrios, a board member with the organization. “I have been involved as board member for the past eight years,” adds Barrios.
Her roots with the organization go deeper and further than that.
“As a child I would bring the VIP panel drinks, answer phones, do whatever I could to help,” she added.
This year’s telethon will be broadcast from the Cut Off Youth Center by Vision Communications on channel 5 starting Saturday, August 23, from noon until 10 p.m. and Sunday, August 24, from noon until 6 p.m.
The telethon is also live streamed on the organization’s web site, www.cerebralpalsy.com and updates are posted continuously throughout the weekend on Facebook and Twitter.
“Every year we hold four state-wide telethons to raise funds – Monroe, Lafayette, Houma and Cut Off,” says Kathy Arceneaux, a 16-year veteran with CP of LA who handles all organization’s telethons. “And, the Cut Off telethon always brings in the most money,” she added.
Arceneaux attributes the success to the community’s commitment. “When there is great support, success is almost always guaranteed,” she said.
Kathy has seen quite a few telethons and notices a trend.
“Every year, Houma’s telethon is held in early August and Cut Off at the end of August and they both keep getting bigger in terms of fundraising,” she added. “Houma generated $82,000 in pledges this year…that’s up $10,000 from the previous year. We are a small organization doing really big things,” she says.
Without any federal or state money, the organization relies solely on its fundraising efforts.
Here in Lafourche, we are the largest in terms of monies pledged.
“Oh,” says Arceneaux, “Houma and Lafourche often run neck-in-neck, however, the Cut Off telethon always generates more pledges,” she added.
Last year, our telethon brought in $111,000 in pledges.
Every year, the group selects a local poster child to represent and become the face of cerebral palsy for our area. This year’s poster child is Jason Ross and he is no stranger to the telethon, or being a poster child for that matter. He has served previously as a poster child when he was younger and enjoys helping the organization any way he can.
“Jason is always at the telethons in Cut Off,” says Arceneaux. “He thoroughly enjoys volunteering and helping out, and he loves the entertainment we schedule every year.”
Speaking of entertainment, they have some great acts scheduled for the weekend. The Bayou Bell Ringers, LA 56, Southern Earth Tones and the Blue Eyed Soul Revue, among others, are all scheduled to perform. Also, you don’t want to miss Windell Curole (yes, that Windell Curole!) strumming his guitar and singing with his band!
And don’t forget, when you visit the telethon and drop a $25 donation in the fish bowl, you’ll receive an “I Helped” t-shirt.
The set-up for the event begins on Friday morning at 9 a.m.
“We have stages to set up, 20 phones to get plugged in, laptops, paperwork, all kinds of things that have to be done before the event starts on Saturday at noon,” says Arceneaux.
Usually, our area oozes volunteers, but not this year according to Arceneaux.
“Usually I have people calling me all the time to volunteer,” she says. “This year, I have had to seek out volunteers to help with the telethon. A lot of our volunteers have gotten older, moved away or just aren’t able to help like they used to,” she added.
“We really need to start grooming the younger generation to take the place of their parents and grandparents and carry the volunteer torch forward,” she said.
There are 20 phone lines that are manned in two-hour shifts and with 16 hours of telethon, well Arceneaux does the math for us.
“Just staffing the phones takes 100 volunteers,” she says. “We can always use more volunteers.”
Anyone wishing to be a VIP, help set up on Friday, volunteer to answer phones or help in any way, should contact Kathy Arceneaux at the CP of LA office at 1-800-375-8275 or visit the organization’s web site at www.cerebralpalsyla.com.
Jason Ross is this year's poster person for the Lower Lafourche Cerebral Palsy Telethon.
Posted on Tue, August 19, 2014
by Marc Kimball, Contributing Writer