Emory Report
November 24, 2008
Volume 61, Number 13



Emory Report homepage  

November 24
, 2008
EAA staff dials up its outreach with STAR 94

Eric Rangus is the director of communica-tions for the Emory Alumni Association.

Thanks for calling the STAR 94 Cares for Kids Radiothon, may I have your name, please?

The first couple of times you say that opening line, it’s easy to stumble over — especially “Cares for Kids” — but once you get in the groove, once you talk to a few very generous callers and listen to their stories, once you can feel the smile creep across your face as you share the joy of those callers, the line flows nice and smooth.

On Nov. 13–15, Atlanta radio station STAR 94 held its 6th annual Cares for Kids Radiothon to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA). It took place at CHOA at Egleston, which is located on Clifton Road, affiliated with the School of Medicine and staffed primarily by Emory pediatricians, transforming the cafeteria into a mini-studio.

On one side were the deejays and on the other was the phone bank staffed by a variety of volunteers. On Thursday, Nov. 13, from 1 to 5:30 p.m., those phone-bank volunteers included the staff of the Emory Alumni Association (EAA).

The EAA’s staff’s participation was organized by Steffani Lautenschlager, assistant director for regional programs. She had volunteered for the 2007 Radiothon and for 2008 decided to invite her co-workers to do the same. It was a pretty easy sell. Eighteen of the EAA’s 24 staff members were able to participate in a two-hour shift during STAR 94’s Cindy and Ray Show.

We wore our blue Emory Cares International Service Day T-shirts (proper University branding for the webcast) and while the job was hectic (was that a credit card number or an address? Could you spell that city name again? D-U-L-U-oh, sorry) and in a certain sense mechanical (it’s impossible to look good wearing a headset), the heart of the matter was never lost.

Among the dozens of callers, one woman asked to be a Miracle Maker ($21 a month for as long as she wants) because her 7-month-old son, soon after he was born, had to be flown by helicopter to CHOA or else he wouldn’t have survived. He’s doing fine now.

Some callers were unemployed, but still wanted to donate to CHOA. Others were children, wanting to get involved (with their parents’ permission and credit card numbers, although more than one pulled from their allowance to donate).

One of the last callers we spoke to mentioned her grandson, who came to CHOA first for an appendectomy. Soon after, he was hospitalized for a problem with his brain. For more than three weeks, his life was in grave danger. Once he finally left the hospital he had to learn to walk again. Then run. Now 15, he’s back playing sports again.

She made it about halfway through the story before she started weeping. The EAA staffer made it a bit further. No weeping, but instead some of that labored breathing that helps prevent weeping.

You thank the callers — frequently more than once. Wish them — and frequently their children — well, hang up the phone, take a breath, maybe take a note or two to give Cindy and Ray for proper acknowledgment. The phone rings once more. Repeat.

In four hours, the EAA’s two shifts logged more than $28,000 in donations. In all, the Radiothon raised more than $825,000 for CHOA. Four-and-a-half hours on the phone was just a small effort, but it’s one that makes you feel pretty big.