The first Saturday in December has been the date for the annual UW–Platteville Badger Camp Telethon since 1973.
Saturday’s Badger Camp Telethon, broadcast live on local cable TV from the Pioneer Tower basement, will be the final telethon after 42 years as Wisconsin Badger Camp’s biggest fundraiser.
“We certainly hate to see it go, but I’m so grateful to the university for all the years of their support,” said Brent Bowers, Badger Camp’s executive director and an employee since 1992. “We’ve had the telethon since 1973, and it’s always been the largest fundraiser for Badger Camp. But I can see how change happens.
“The telethon grew and grew … what started out as a teaching tool grew into a community event that kept on going. It’s a really unique event, and it really gets the community involved together.”
The telethon is being discontinued because of the resources it took to put on the telethon.
“To produce that, it took something on the order of 900 staff hours, and that’s a lot of money and staff energy,” said UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields. “This is not any flagging of our support of Badger Camp, and we’ll find other ways to support it.”
Another problem is that a decreasing number of cable TV systems have been carrying the telethon. The telethon can be viewed on Centurylink channel 5 in Platteville and online at www.badgercamp.org. It also can be viewed in person at Pioneer Tower.
About 90 percent of the telethon’s 10 hours, from noon to 10 p.m., is carried live, with everything the word “live” implies.
“Since I’ve been involved, I don’t think we’ve gone to black too many times,” said Bowers. “There were a couple times we wished we would have.
“At the very end, everyone’s pretty wiped out, and there’s still work that goes on until 11:30 or midnight.”
This last telethon will be different, though.
“We’ll have some emotional times,” said Bowers. “There will be a lot of alumni that come back and that really cut their teeth on this live production.”
About two-thirds of Badger Camp’s telethon-related fundraising comes from the silent auction and the corporate sponsorship.
Bowers said that yearly pledges should continue, but without the telethon “It’s going to be a big hole to fill.”
Fundraisers to replace the telethon could include “a variety of things, from a holiday gala to a variety show to an additional silent auction,” said Bowers.
“We’re still talking about that,” said Shields of future support of Badger Camp. “Last year was going to be the last year, and we agreed to extend it a year so they could adjust their planning and programming. We’re open to suggestions.”
To place bids on silent auction items (see pages 6A and 7A), call 349-9010.