Heartwarming stories from the North Okanagan will be among those featured in the 49th annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon on Global BC.
Beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday and winding up at 5 p.m. Sunday, the two-day show features stories of children in B.C. helped by Variety – The Children’s Charity, concerts showcasing the music industry’s biggest stars, and innovative ways for viewers to engage with the show – including winning a new car.
The major fundraiser is essential to helping kids who are battling disabilities and diseases instead of just being kids.
Kids like Emma Tucker of Armstrong, who is being featured on the telethon this year (Sunday around 11 a.m.).
“Please watch and donate to this amazing charity that has helped Emma and countless other families,” said parents Wayne and Jennifer Tucker, who own Tucker’s Restaurant.
Emma has Canavan disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes progressive damage to nerve cells in the brain. She cannot crawl, walk, sit or talk.
She is also visually and hearing impaired.
Life expectancy for children with Canavan disease is between three and 10 years old.
The community has been very supportive with local fundraising efforts. Variety provided funding for a van lift and tie-downs for Emma’s wheelchair.
“Emma celebrated her second birthday in May which for a child with Canavan’s is a victory in itself,” said Jennifer.
“Around two years old is when the disease starts to present itself. Every day that she’s healthy is a victory. We went through the whole winter without her being sick once.”
Variety has also made a difference for 12-year-old Callie Wasylik of Vernon, who has narcolepsy – a chronic sleeping disorder in which she is perpetually tired and can fall asleep instantly at any given moment.
“When she becomes excited or very happy she loses muscle function in her entire body and will collapse unable to regain any movement until her mood settles down,” said mom Nancy Wasylik.
There is no known cure and the best that can be done for her is to manage it with medication.
Variety covered the costs of accommodation and meals when the family travelled to the Stanford Medical Research Center to see specialists.
“The medication has been very successful and changed Callie’s life,” said Nancy, as her daughter can now participate in physical activities, is making friends and her school work has improved.
Helping kids like Emma and Callie is what Variety is all about.
“The Show of Hearts Telethon is our biggest fundraising event of the year,” said Bernice Scholten, executive director of Variety.
“We see each child as a champion, capable of achieving remarkable success. Our show salutes the little victories of kids across the province and we invite viewers to celebrate with us.”