Behind the scenes of the UCP Telethon & Snow Biz

(WEAU) – Lights, camera, action! The 33rd annual UCP Starfest Telethon is coming up on Saturday January 26th.

It's a day many of us here at WEAU and more than 200 volunteers put time into to give back to the community.

United Cerebral Palsy serves about 700 families here in western Wisconsin and last year the event raised about $215,000. But things like video, sound or even a 70 degree tent is not something that happens overnight.

"You give a party, and hope everybody shows up because you don't want to be sitting in a room by yourself,” said UCP Executive Director Dave Piltz.

The Executive Director of UCP says this is something he thinks about all year round.

"You're hoping you get phone activity. All of our VIPS are out there, taking or making phone calls," said Piltz.

When the day comes for the six hour telethon everything is worked down to the last minute.

"Live television is alive and well at the telethon," said Rick Wold, Studio One Productions.

Wold is in charge with pre-recorded segments and was there for the first telethon 33 years ago as a WEAU camera person.

"For a single telethon, there are probably 50-100 components. Anything from little as 10 second transitions to 4-5 minute features,” said Wold.

So how do the names of donors scroll so easily across your screen? It’s all thanks to a 1985 Video Toaster.

"The toaster was one of the first portable studios in a box," said Wold.

Then of course there's Snow Biz, where volunteers bear the cold temperatures to bring live music and food.

"From the neighborhood and all the way up north, they come down and do this. It's the little people that bring their forklifts,” said Randy Lahr, Part Owner, Brackett Bar.

Then there's racing of course. Volunteers say the snow cross track takes at least two days to make. But, because there was not enough snow around, it was taken from Oakwood Mall.

Of course there have been bumps in the road with the telethon in past years.

"The morning of the telethon 5 minutes in a semi-tractor pulls up to stop the light and blocks the signal to the trailer and the telethon is off the air. You never saw two guys run up a step ladder so fast in your life," said Lahr.

No matter what, it’s an event to remember.

Snow Biz starts at 9am at Brackett Bar and the UCP Telethon begins on WEAU at noon.


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