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Spinning ‘Oldies’

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By Marion Blackburn

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Radio station Oldies 107.9 takes on a mission for children April 8 to 10 during its annual Radiothon for Children’s Hospital in Greenville.

Thousands of listeners tune in during the annual event to make a contribution to Children’s Miracle Network. All proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital, part of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.

The Oldies 107.9 Radiothon is set to begin at 6 a.m. April 8 and continue through 5 p.m. April 10.

In return for contributions, the station plays just about any request, including hits by Elvis, beach music, even Christmas tunes, says Doug Moreland, promotions director for WNCT-107.9.

Since the first broadcast in 1998 earned $5,400, the event has steadily grown. Last year’s event raised $466,871.

“We going for another record year,” Moreland says.

During the marathon weekend, radio personalities host special guests, including pediatricians, volunteers, “miracle children” and their families who were treated at Children’s Hospital.

The weekend has a festival atmosphere, with humor and stories from the broadcast hosts. Local pediatricians often join them on the air, along with volunteers and sponsors.

This year’s Oldies 107.9 Radiothon will focus on raising funds to help build and equip a new unit for vulnerable children known as a Kids Immunosuppressed Special Unit or KISSU at Children’s Hospital, a 122-bed hospital within a hospital on the campus of Pitt County Memorial in Greenville.

It serves a 29-county referral area in eastern North Carolina and has about 32,000 pediatric patient visits each year.

The new unit would be entirely germ-free for children who need isolation as they recover from cancer, blood diseases and other serious illness.

A primary vehicle for donations is the “12-by-12” pledge, which asks listeners to commit to a $12 donation each month for a year. Donors receive a dozen doughnuts from Krispy Kreme.

“Our motto is a little from a lot,” Moreland says. “We like to keep it simple, with as many people giving as are able to do it.”

The strong support from local listeners shows the importance they place on children’s health care, says Brenda Joyner, executive director of the Pitt Memorial Hospital Foundation, of which Children’s Miracle Network is a fundraising program.

“We’re grateful for the donations from mothers and fathers, grandparents and friends of children throughout eastern North Carolina,” Joyner says. “Because of their generosity during the Radiothon, we are able to bring advanced medical treatments to the children who need them.”

This year’s special guests include 4-year-old Davis Pugh, who was selected to represent North Carolina as the 2005 Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network, along with other miracle children and teens. Davis and his parents met with Gov. Mike Easley in March and with national representatives in Washington, D.C.

For information or to make a contribution, call 1-800-673-5437.

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