The Telethon talent competition is much more than talent – Post Bulletin
It’s time, once again, for your annual reminder to attend – and donate – the Eagles Cancer Telethon.
First of all, it’s a talent show.
And talent shows fascinate me, not necessarily for what happens on stage, but because I keep wondering about that moment when dad said, “Hey, we should start a family hip troupe -hop! And the rest of the family immediately responded with a “Yes!” And then, “Let’s ask Grandpa and Grandma to join!”
I have a hard time convincing my whole family to go to the cinema with me.
I’m sure they’d be less enthusiastic about me repeatedly correcting their jazz hand technique as part of my awesome choreography for our family routine to The Black-Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow.”
But if you’ve ever considered participating in – or watching – a talent show, nothing is more moving than seeing the locals donate their time and talent to the Eagles Cancer telethon.
From 8 p.m. Jan. 15 to 4 p.m. Jan. 16, approximately 125 talent shows will perform for 20 consecutive hours in front of crowds at the Mayo Civic Center, ranging from a sold-out crowd at prime time to, at 5 a.m. , mainly cameramen, volunteers. , and personalities from the KTTC. Anyone can come in, for free, and watch.
So it’s been gone for 67 years. In that first year, 1954, the telethon raised just over $10,000. Last year it grossed around $1 million.
Telethon acts consist of everything from Elvis impersonators and jugglers to yodelers, tap-dancing grandmothers and that family who decided to start this hip-hop troupe.
Phone donations, I’m sure, increase when these artists have the chance, on live television, to explain the motivation behind their performance.
They are there, they will tell you, because they lost a little brother to cancer. Or because their favorite teacher lost all her hair from chemo and often dropped out of school. Or because their baby – their baby boy – survived cancer thanks to research funded by events like this.
You realize that those hours spent dancing hip-hop in the basement were about something bigger.
Her daughter Hadley, now 22, spent five years – from age 13 to 18 – auditioning for the telethon. Anyone who has attended one of these tryouts, held in November at the Eagles Club, knows that just having the nerve to audition is a feat in and of itself.
For his first two years, like many acts, Hadley didn’t get that precious “yes” email. She kept trying, if only because she wanted the chance to say, just on TV, that she was doing this for my mother, her grandmother, who died of cancer 20 years earlier. Hadley’s birth.
Third year, Hadley finally got that “yes” email. Even though she had a 5 a.m. slot, she felt like a star. That year, Hadley played the ukulele and sang “Riptide,” and the camera cut to my wife, Lindy, for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, probably because she was the only person in the public. It didn’t matter because Hadley got a chance to tell everyone why she was there.
The following year, Hadley scored a spot on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and played ukulele and sang A-ha’s “Take On Me” and The Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl.” More importantly, though, when the KTTC host asked Hadley why she tried, Hadley told the story of her aunt, my brother’s wife, Tammi, who died of brain cancer at age 51. My brother and his kids, I know, were watching a live stream at his house in Michigan.
And you realize, in those moments, why all the other artists and volunteers are really doing this.
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.