BLOOMINGTON – Central Illinoisans raised a record-high amount for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. According to McLean County chair James Ingold, the St. Jude Telethon raised $10,901,913, up from last year’s $10,391,014.
The total includes money raised during the telethon and by the St. Jude runners this past weekend, as well as money collected throughout the past year in Central Illinois for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and its Midwest Affiliate Clinic at OSF HealthCare Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria.
"It was an amazing night," Ingold said.
"I am amazed and inspired by what Central Illinois has done for the kids of St. Jude," commented St. Jude development representative Shyanne Sisk this past week.
Money raised goes to support research and services of St. Jude, which treats 7,800 children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases each year. According to Sisk, that includes nearly 600 inpatients so far this year, including patients from Central Illinois.
The telethon was broadcast Saturday evening by WEEK-TV from the Peoria Civic Center and from Illinois Wesleyan University's Shirk Center.
While St. Jude previously reported how much of the total came from McLean County — last year it was $2,925,229 — Sisk noted St. Jude no longer reports county subtotals to reflect that St. Jude serves people from everywhere and that gifts to St. Jude come from everywhere.
But, St. Jude continues to report amounts raised by various teams that make up the runners. About 3,000 runners and volunteers from throughout Central Illinois participated in 36 runs that converged on Peoria to begin the telethon. Among the 36 were runs that began in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Mackinaw, Metamora, Minonk, Morton, Tremont and Washington. According to Sisk, all nine of those teams raised more money than last year.
The Eureka to Peoria circuit netted $148,300, which was more than their $135,000 goal. Two other runs were Chicago to Peoria, which made a stop in Roanoke, raised $277,250, while Minonk to Peoria gathered in $154,000.
According to Bloomington-to-Peoria run co-chair Dennis Cler, B-N area runners raised $290,000.
"We are absolutely thrilled and humbled by the generosity of so many people in our community to help the kids of St. Jude," Cler said. "The need is still there, so we'll be back next year. No family gets a bill from St. Jude and we want to make sure that keeps happening."
According to Decatur-area run coordinator Dave Morr, $98,273 was raised.
"I am so proud of the work the runners put in to raise money for St. Jude," Morr said. "Our team had a fantastic year and what's even more exciting for me is that the runners are already discussing ways to recruit additional people for our team so we can raise more money next year."
Overall, the runners raised $5,698,582, which is a record-high total.