Eagles Telethon planning in full force

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By Correne Martin


The Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon is still happening in Prairie du Chien later this month.

“The focus this year is the community because we, as a community, need the telethon,” said Tom Nelson, a founder and organizer of the annual fundraising event for heart disease and cancer research. “We need hope to keep moving forward during these different times.”

Starting at 5 p.m., on Saturday, Jan. 30, the Eagles Telethon will kick off—for the 46th year—at the Bluff View Intermediate School cafeteria. It will be broadcast live on local channel 6 and online at eagletelethon.org. Local talents will perform musical selections and skits. They will also share their inspiring stories of loved ones touched by heart disease and cancer and the reasons behind their participation in the telethon. 

“We’re putting this on for the community. We need to have some fun. But, seriously, we want people coming on air to talk about what they’re doing in the community,” Nelson said. “This year, while we continue to fund raise for heart disease and cancer research, the telethon is maybe more so about how people have found hope and determination to get through the COVID pandemic.”

Nelson said all the key components behind the scenes of the annual Eagles Telethon are in place for another year. He will once again be joined by co-hosts Tom Stram and Dan Moris. The Eagles Club, the school, Mediacom, CenturyTel and countless volunteers are all in place to ensure the awaited event can take place smoothly. 

Another focal piece for the 2021 telethon will be the Chip of Hope. This concept was something Nelson introduced to the telethon audience last year, and he hopes to bring it further into the light this year. The Chip of Hope is a small, plastic yellow chip that features the Eagles Aerie 1502 logo and Heart and Cancer Telethon insignia on one side and, on the other side, reminds its holder that “”We are among friends.”

“We’re trying to make these things and the club members are going to try to get them out to as many people as we can,” Nelson said. 

People can get them from members or they can stop by the Eagles Club the two weeks before the telethon and get one.

“You can rub that chip for hope. It’s kinda like a rabbit’s foot,” he added.

The ideas of hope, strength and knowledge that have moved people through the pandemic are similar, in Nelson’s eyes, to the motivation propelling people through situations of heart disease and cancer. Also, he believes, institutions like Gundersen, Mayo Clinic and UW Health are utilizing the same tools—that the telethon funds have helped them develop—to research the coronavirus and take care of COVID-19 patients.

“It all ties together,” Nelson reflected. 

Anyone interested in contributing to the telethon by donating an auction item or otherwise volunteering may contact Eagles President Chad Abram at the club at 326-6012. To be added to the schedule of performers, people may contact Ruth Taylor at 326-9069 or Ev Dow also at the club. 

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