Wyatt to represent state at telethon

Wyatt to represent state at telethon
Wyatt to represent state at telethon | Clorissa Wyatt of Obion County, CDS Telethon of Stars

Clorissa Wyatt of Obion County
To many in Northwest Tennessee, cooler autumn weather signals falling leaves, high school football season, or is a reminder that it’s time once again to climb into those deer stands and go hunting. But for the nearly 200 employees and clients of Community Developmental Services (CDS), November marks something else – the Annual Telethon of Stars to be held this weekend.
“It’s officially Telethon season,” says Cathy Cate, executive director of CDS, who attended the 55th Annual Telethon of Stars kick-off luncheon Tuesday at the Luther F. Carson Center in downtown Paducah, Ky., along with Tennessee’s telethon representative, Clorissa Wyatt of Obion County, her mother and step-father, Sandra and Johnny McTurner and sister, Serena Blanton.  
“This a very important time of year for us as far as fundraising goes. Now is when we begin our most intensive efforts to increase awareness about who we are and, of course, to raise donations.”
 This is the 40th year CDS has been serving adults with developmental disabilities across northwest Tennessee.
Beginning as a service to children with developmental disabilities, who at the time were not allowed in the public schools, today CDS serves approximately 120 adults with conditions such as mental retardation, autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome in Weakley, Obion, Carroll, Henry and Lake counties.   
The nonprofit organization generates an important portion of its budget each year through the Telethon of Stars, a joint effort between the Paducah Lions Club and WPSD Local 6.  The rest of the agency’s funding comes from local, state and federal governments.
Significant cutbacks in state funding, along with increasing costs of food, fuel and insurance, have CDS depending upon the money it raises through the telethon now more than at any other time in its decades-long history.
“It’s really sad to think that after being such an integral part of Martin and the surrounding communities for so many years, that we could be at risk of closing our doors,” Cate said.   
CDS currently operates five group homes, two supported-living homes and a center that teaches daily living skills, sponsors creative activities and promotes physical and mental well-being through designated exercises and activities.  
It also runs a sheltered workshop, CDS Industries, as well as a growing supported employment program, placing clients in jobs in the community.   
The cost of a CDS closure would indeed be high: nearly 60 individuals left without a home, another 65 individuals without work, or at risk of losing their jobs, and every client without the cognitive, emotional and social support of the day center in Martin, according to a press release.
The 2011 Telethon of Stars includes 15 continuous hours of live music, featuring performances by the accapella group Ball in the House, that have become a local favorite; Blue Grass music’s Josh Williams Band; rising star Laura Bell Bundy and from the Paducah area and telethon favorites Terry Mike Jeffrey and Eric Horner.  
The telethon will also include interviews with Shawn Christian of NBC’s Days of Our Lives.  
The Telethon of Stars has raised more than $25 million over the last five decades to help support children and adults with developmental disabilities.   
Cate said she is hopeful that this year’s Telethon will be successful but acknowledges there will be a loss for Tennessee and CDS as this telethon marks the final appearance for the USWA Local 878L to appear on the telethon presenting their payroll deduction donation for CDS.  
With the closure of Goodyear, CDS is losing not only the financial support of the men and women of the Steel Workers, but long-time loyal supporters of the agency.
Individuals can still contribute to the telethon the old fashion way – by calling into the program during the live show between 10 Saturday night until 1 Sunday afternoon to make their pledge or go to the telethon website www.telethonofstars.org.

WCP 11.10.11

Leave a Comment