51 years young: Variety's updated telethon stays true to its roots

Feb 1 2017, 12:08 am

Variety Show of Hearts

Daily Hive is proud to be partnered with Variety for its 51st annual Show of Hearts Telethon on February 12. For more information, visit them on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, and Instagram. You can donate online, over the phone at 310-KIDS, or by texting “KIDS” to 45678. 

You’ve seen the icon – a heart wearing a top hat. You’ve flicked through the TV channels, watching Global BC host a telethon to raise money for kids with special needs. Maybe you’ve even heard the jingle for the children’s charity lottery.

In short, you likely know about Variety – a children’s charity with a mission of “stepping in where health care ends.”

Variety BC’s story starts in 1966, the year it was founded. And it begins with one of its most enduring legacies: the telethon.


Image: Variety BC

The beginning

In 1966, the Variety Show of Hearts telethon raised $67,000 in pledges for disabled and disadvantaged kids. But the show’s format focused on local dignitaries and entertainers.

In 1967, that focus was put on kids.

Instead of commercials, the telethon featured vignettes of kids who were getting help through the charity: a child who received a new wheelchair, kids with much needed leg or back braces, families who were able to put their child’s wheelchair in the car for the first time.

For the mid-1960s, it was a revolutionary achievement. In the past, kids with special needs were often hidden, and their issues weren’t discussed.

But Variety kept those issues at the forefront of their fundraising and charity work, while more and more people came together to support them.

Celebrities joined in for the annual Show of Hearts telethon. Strangers came together to support coin drives for local kids. Wealthy benefactors left estate bequests and large donations to keep Variety’s causes going.

How Variety has changed lives

Over the years, through the telethon and other fundraising initiatives, Variety has been able to help kids and their families. It’s put money towards a mental health and addiction centre for youth in Vancouver. It’s supported hospitals to make sure there are better services for babies born prematurely.

The charity helps families stay together during difficult surgeries by funding their travel and stay. It covers medical supplies and equipment for families who can’t afford them. It helps kids be more independent by providing wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

Sharing inspiring stories

“We want to tell stories that will reflect the core purpose of Variety: to inspire donors to help all children who have special needs in BC and the Yukon to fulfill their potential, so they can focus on the important things – like being kids,” said Kristy Gill, the CEO of Variety BC.

That’s why this year, Variety introduced Variety Week, to share the stories of kids helped by the charity. Dacian was one of them.

He has progressive muscular dystrophy. Boys with this condition normally lose the ability to walk by the time they reach his age, and rarely live past 30. Although he can still walk, he uses a wheelchair to get around most days. Variety paid to have the family van converted so he can take his wheelchair everywhere.

These stories and others were showcased on Global BC between October 31 and November 4 – and thanks to them, Variety experienced a huge wave of new donors who raised $700,000.

The 51st telethon

The children featured throughout Variety Week will be back to share their continuing stories during the Show of Hearts telethon.

This year, the telethon will last one day instead of the usual two. But although the change marks an evolution in philanthropy, at its heart it’s following the same message Variety has always had: put the kids and their stories first.

For more information on the Variety Show of Hearts Telethon, check it out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. You can donate online, over the phone, or by texting “KIDS” to 45678.

Variety Show of Hearts Telethon 2017

When: Sunday, February 12

Time: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm

Where: Hard Rock Casino – 2080 United Blvd, Coquitlam

Price: Tickets to the event are free and you can watch the telethon on Global BC and online

Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of the Variety Show of Hearts