The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


40th Telethon to be held

Rachael Shaff
Betsy Ralph-Iollefson, far left, a UW-Platteville alumni, practices for the Wisconsin Badger Camp Telethon Tuesday night with her brother Patrick Ralph, a four-year running host and elementary education major, while Zachery Christianson, senior communication technologies major, works camera.

The Badger Camp Telethon from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 might be the second to last for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Telethon, which airs on TV-5, will be continued at least through December 2014, according to UW-Platteville Public Information Officer Paul Erickson.

Although the televised fundraiser is close to its end, Chancellor Dennis J. Shields said UW-Platteville plans to continue partnering with Badger Camp, a non-profit organization that sends developmentally disabled adults and children to summer camp just south of the Wisconsin River near Prairie Du Chen.

“All of us are proud of our 40-year commitment to Wisconsin Badger Camp, an exceptional organization and the inspiring individuals it serves,” Shields said. “This is an enduring partnership that will continue well into the future.”

Erickson said UW-Platteville is working with Badger Camp to come up with innovative alternatives to the Telethon.

Carol Beals, chair of the Badger Camp Board of Directors, said she hopes the new model includes experience for students.

“As the Telethon has evolved, the students have evolved with it,” Beals said, who is also the dean’s assistant for the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. “I would hope we can continue to have a relationship that still gives students the hands-on opportunity that we are known for as a university.”

The telethon, which marks its 40th year on Saturday, collected more than $65,000 in donations last year, according to Badger Camp Executive Director Brent Bowden. In 2011, the telethon collected more than $66,000.

“We fundraise from ground zero every year,” Beals said. “It will be a big hole in (the Badger Camp) budget process that we have to figure out.”

When Badger Camp Executive Director Bowden heard the Telethon was close to its end, he said his emotions were mixed.

“I was sad and disappointed,” Bowden said. “It’s our largest fundraiser and a long-standing tradition at the university but it’s not a surprise. We knew for quite some time that it would not be continuing.”

Bowden said the Telethon has not only provided opportunities for Badger Camp clients but also for the students who volunteer to put it on.

“This live production has been instrumental in real-life experience for the students,” Bowden said.

The Telethon, in years past, grew to a 30-hour broadcast, but has since cut back to 10 hours.

“There haven’t been as many students to participate in the event, as the department and major has evolved,” Bowden said.

The Telethon is mostly volunteer based but some employees in Media Technology Services are paid for work done for the Telethon.

Students, faculty and alumni help organize and run all aspects of the production, from programming the donation board, to operating cameras and working as on-air talents.

“Just the commotion and the rush is exciting,” Beals said. “Then, when you see the video clips of the people and their smiles at camp, you know it’s $60,000 that is going to a good cause.”

Beals said the people who volunteer in the Telethon touch at least 800 lives each year.

“And that’s just the campers alone,” Beals said. “When you take into account their caregivers and the experience the students get out it, it more than doubles.”

Badger Camp charges a subsidized fee for campers, meaning they do not charge the full amount that it costs to camp for a week.  However, if the client and their family cannot afford the fee, fundraising money helps offset the cost further.

“Fundraisers alone keep us going,”  Beals said.

To watch the Telethon, tune into local access channel 5 from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, or visit the Badger Camp website for online streaming.

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40th Telethon to be held