WYRK’s Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon aims to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The phones have been ringing in the phone bank area at the Country 106.5 WYRK studios since early Thursday morning when the 2nd annual Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon got underway.

Every dollar raised during this campaign helps fund patient care and critical research to find cures for childhood cancers.

WYRK raised more than $300,000 during its first Country Cares radiothon last year. The crew is hoping to raise even more before this year’s radiothon ends Friday evening.

GIVE | Call 1-800-372-4999 or text KIDS to 626262 to make a donation.

Volunteers are taking shifts to answer phones and accept donations.

For volunteer JoAnne McInerny, who was answering phones Thursday morning, this is a way to celebrate an important anniversary. This marks seven years to the day since her daughter, Ashley, received a life-saving bone marrow transplant as part of her treatment at St. Jude for a rare form of leukemia.

“We chose to go to St. Jude for that treatment and we really believe that’s the reason she’s here today,” McInerny said.

Now, Ashley is happy and healthy, and planning a wedding in just a few months. She’s also back at St. Jude, where she’s been working as a nurse for the last three years. “She said, ‘How do I say no to the place that saved my life? I have to give back’,” McInerny explained.

McInerny urged people to donate when she was volunteering Thursday, giving back to the organization that has given so many families so much since it was founded by entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962.

MORE | Click here to learn more about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

“We actually lived at the St. Jude Target house for nine months we were down there,” McInerny recalled, “and then after that we went back and forth for almost a year.”

No family ever receives a bill for travel, lodging or treatment when they have a child being cared for at St. Jude. That’s made possible by donations like the ones coming in during the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids campaign now.

The Country Cares director at St. Jude, Scott Hinschelwood, knows first hand the difference all of that makes. “I was diagnosed with osteocarcoma when I was a 15 year old. Luckily for me it hadn’t spread, and I’m alive today because of the work St. Jude does,” he told News 4. “And I get to raise money for the place that saved my life.”

Since Hinschelwood was treated at St. Jude, childhood cancer survival rates have continued to increase. Groundbreaking research at St. Jude has helped push the survival rate from less than 20% in 1962 to more than 80% today.

But more work is needed to cure childhood cancers once and for all, and your donation can make a difference. People who donate $20 or more per month receive a free This Shirt Saves Lives t-shirt as a thank you.

“Thank you to everyone who’s given,” Hinschelwood said. “If you want to give, become a Partner in Hope and help benefit the kids at St. Jude.”

“I can’t tell you how important St. Jude is,” McInerny added.

Several of our News 4 team members are helping with this year’s radiothon, too. Jordan Williams and Katie Alexander are volunteering in the phone bank Thursday. Angela Christophoros is volunteering Friday.

If you’d like to donate, you can learn more on the WYRK website.

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