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Telethon raises $331,000 for cancer center

April 3, 2005 – Supporters of the effort to set up a cancer center on St. Thomas raised more than $300,000 Saturday night with the help of volunteers, some local celebrities and media outlets.
More than six weeks of planning and coordination went into the Cure for Life telethon, according to Lorraine Baa-Elisha, the development director for the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute. By the end of the six-hour fundraiser, simulcast over cable TV and local radio outlets, organizers had $331,000 in hand to help build and run the cancer center. Their goal for the evening was to raise $300,000, she said.
"We made it, and we made it over," Baa-Elisha said, adding that she thought this year's fundraiser was well planned and better run than the first effort held one year ago. "All in all, it was a successful telethon."
Bands, dancers, singers and other performers, sprinkled with appeals for donations, kept the phones ringing for several minutes after the midnight finale. Studio cameras zoomed in on banks of well-dressed volunteers taking the calls.
The final tallies are expected to include donations by schools and businesses that set canisters out to collect additional funds. More cash donations were also expected to come in through pledge envelopes dropped in different locations on Tortola.
The only challenge came from what Baa-Elisha called glitches in the telephone pledge lines, which caused sporadic outages throughout the night.
On camera, large contributors posed with oversized replicas of checks, with hefty donations printed in large numbers. Baa-Elisha and Rodney Miller, the head of the Roy L. Schneider Hospital, took turns accepting the symbolic checks and offering thanks. Among those handing over a big check was Cheri Boynes-Jackson, operations manager from Boyson Inc. barge service of St. John.
"We have had several family members who have had cancer, so we think it is real good for them to build a cancer institute here, so folks don't have to travel to the states for treatment," Boynes-Jackson said.
Boyson Inc. gave $1,500 at the Cure for Life telethon. Other large donors gave up to $5,000 in support of the cancer center.
Baa-Elisha said the pledges added up quickly in spite of the faulty phone lines. Slightly less than $100,000 was pledged by the half-way mark, and the stated goal of $300,000 was reached at 11 p.m., with one hour left to go.

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