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Phone bank workers talk with donors at the Radiothon for Kids.

Radiothon for Kids Thursday and Friday will raise funds for new Golisano Center for Special Needs

The 17th annual Radiothon for Kids benefitting Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital will be broadcast live from the first-floor lobby of Upstate University Hospital 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Feb. 27 and 28.

The Upstate Foundation partners with iHeart Media and CNY Central for this annual fundraiser, which supports pediatric services and patient programs at the children’s hospital. Proceeds from this year’s radiothon will go toward the new Golisano Center for Special Needs.

Through the years, Radiothon for Kids has raised funds that support new equipment, comfort items, distraction toys, patient and family unmet needs, materials for the Family Resource Center, Safe Kids Upstate NY, research, educational training and the Child Life Program. The 2019 radiothon raised $250,000, which was a new record for the event.

Radiothon for Kids will be broadcast on Syracuse iHeart Radio stations Y94 and 570WSYR as well as on CNY Central TV stations with stories and testimonials from children and families about why they are grateful for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“We call them stories of hope and courage,” said Toni Gary, of the Upstate Foundation. “They share their experiences with us to let other people know about all of the great things we’re doing here at Upstate. Many of the families say they don’t understand what we do here until they need our services themselves.”

Upstate’s new Golisano Center for Special Needs, which was announced last fall, will provide much-needed services to even more families throughout New York state.

“The center is very important to the community and we know it’s greatly needed,” Gary said. “The center will allow us to provide better care for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It will help to increase the number of children served, decrease wait times, increase programming and consolidate vital services and areas of collaboration.”

Countless people make radiothon a success every year. To coordinate 26 hours of live broadcast over two days takes tremendous cooperation and effort among the iHeartMedia Syracuse radio stations, CNY Central and Upstate, Gary said. Radio personalities will interview people, including Upstate leadership, throughout the day and CNY Central will be live during several of its broadcasts. Gary said she usually has at least 125 volunteers working throughout the event, many of whom are regulars each year.

“There’s a lot of energy to the day,” she said. “I have volunteers who contact me way in advance so they can get a specific early time period. I’m full at 5 a.m. with people who are friends of the Upstate Foundation and do this every year before they go on to work. It’s incredible.”

Patients and visitors will be able to see the phone banks and live broadcast happening, including radio personalities conducting interviews, as they enter the hospital.

Donations can be made online now and throughout the event by visiting Radiothon For Kids or by calling 315-464-5500 during the event. Donors can also text “UpstateKids” to 51555, which will direct users to the website. Learn more about the kids who will be featured on this year’s broadcast and join the conversation during Radiothon for Kids on the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital FacebookThe Upstate Foundation Facebook or by following @UpstateGolisano on Twitter and using the hashtag #UpstateKids and #Radiothon2020.

Sponsors for Radiothon for Kids include Stewart’s Shops, Tops Friendly Markets, Honda City, Upstate Medical University Office of the President, AmeriCU, CPS Recruitment, Diana Jewelers, Driver’s Village, Family Care Medical Group, Panera Bread, Peppino’s Pizza, PressRoom Pub, Travel Leaders in Bayberry Plaza and Upstate University Hospital Department of Pediatrics.

For more information, contact the Upstate Foundation office at 315-464-4416.