Residents of the Estevan area once again showed their generosity and community spirit during the 44th annual United Way Estevan Telethon.
The fundraiser, held Friday and Saturday at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch, raised $347,711 for the United Way’s 15 member agencies and its community impact projects. The goal for this year was $320,000, and the theme was United We Stand.
“I’m so grateful and pleased with the continued support given by residents and businesses and our surrounding area. Truly united, we attained the goal and surpassed it, with flying colours,” said United Way Estevan president Melanie Graham.
She credited teamwork and community support to this year’s success.
The telethon surpassed its goal at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, thanks to a $10,000 donation from former Estevan resident Jeff Sandquist. The United Way continued to receive support until the event wrapped up just before 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The telethon started at 8 a.m. Friday morning and offered up entertainment throughout the 33 hours. But due to crowd restrictions, this year’s event had a mixture of pre-recorded and live performances.
The fundraising total stood at around $91,000 at midnight Friday night, and was at around $117,000 at 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. A touching moment came when Graham’s daughters Teagan and Ricki came forward with a cheque for $3,700, which was raised through support from family and close friends.
Melanie Graham said she had no idea the donation was coming.
Moments later, SaskPower came forward with a donation for more than $112,000, which was raised by employees in the Estevan area, and matched by the Crown corporation.
About an hour later, Westmoreland Mining LLC made their donation of more than $80,000, which was again raised through the efforts of the employees and matched by the corporation.
Westmoreland’s support left the United Way a little more than $3,000 short of its goal. That’s when Sandquist’s donation was announced.
Then Graham called United Way Canada president Dan Clement to inform him Estevan had reached its goal. He offered his congratulations to the local United Way.
This year’s event also featured 81 hand-crafted bid items made by local residents, which raised $6,560, or a little more than $80 for each item. For the first time, the United Way had a Facebook silent auction that started days before the Telethon began, which sparked plenty of interest. Graham noted this format will likely become a tradition.
A quilt created by the Hearts and Hands Quilting Guild was available in a raffle, and generated $1,495. It was won by Peggy Rohatyn.
The entire 33-hour event was streamed live on Access Now and on the United Way’s website. Access had its production trailer in Estevan, which enhanced the audio and video quality of the telethon.
The next edition of the Mercury will have more on this story.