CHILDREN'S CARNIVAL Miracles really do come true at hospital fund-raising event
Sunday's telethon raised $960,000, about $40,000 more than last year.
By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ramon Smith spent part of Sunday buying raffle tickets, enjoying a variety of games and spending time with several siblings, as well as a niece and nephew.
It was the first time in nearly three weeks that he had been outside.
Ramon was one of several children who attended the 22nd annual Children's Miracle Carnival. In conjunction with a Tod Children's Hospital Children's Miracle Network Telethon, the event raised money for patients and their families.
The telethon raised about $960,000, organizers said.
Ramon, 11, was admitted to Forum Health Tod Children's Hospital on May 16 after being diagnosed with renal carcinoma, a rare form of cancer in his kidneys.
Tasha Torres said being outdoors was a positive experience for her younger brother, and that he has gotten part of his appetite back.
"He ate french fries," said Torres, of Youngstown's South Side.
Day of festivities
Part of the money raised Sunday will go toward ventilators, transport monitors, incubators, IV pumps, blood pressure cuffs and other equipment and needs. It will also be used to help some families with medical costs.
The one-day public festival featured tents set up by the hospital, as well as area churches and businesses, and included games and activities such as candle art, a karate demonstration, a magician and karaoke.
Kids' voices punctuated the cacophony of sounds at the festival as they took the microphone and belted out the lyrics to songs such as Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and "Hero" by Mariah Carey.
Pat Wolf, the company's corporate director of management, said he wants part of the money to be used for buying new stethoscopes for the kids and new TVs for their rooms. Wolf, who helped start the carnival, said everything in the festival had been donated. A lot of work went into organizing the event beginning last December, but the rewards lie in seeing how the patients have benefited, he said.
"Today is the day I work the hardest, but it's the day I enjoy the most," Wolf said. "We call it kids entertaining kids."
Lori Mowad, a volunteer with the carnival and the telethon, praised individuals and local businesses for coming up with their own ways to raise money, including a garage sale that raised $150.
Volunteers, including hospital staff and former patients, manned the phones, providing information and assistance to callers.
"It's an effort by the community to provide health-care services for children of the Valley," said Matthew Bellin, Forum's development officer.
While the carnival was going on outside, the telethon was taking place in an auditorium at Forum's Medical Education building.
The daylong fund-raiser, sponsored by WFMJ-TV 21, raised around $960,000, said John Gonda, the company's director of marketing and public relations. Last year, about $920,000 had been raised, he said.
More than $60,000 each came from Wal-Mart and from a benefit golf tournament.
Patients and families gave testimonials and spoke of their experiences with the hospital. Local businesses that raised $1,000 or more were featured.
Torres praised the hospital for providing for and reaching out to her brother during the last few weeks.
"The care is excellent with caring, compassionate nurses," she said. "The hospital is loving."