About the Telethon


The 2019 Telethon planning is underway. With the theme of "Family", The 2019 Telethon will be January 26.

 Every year, the objective of the Eagles Heart and Cancer Telethon is to raise just $1 toward cardiology and cancer research. Though, truly, by the end of the eight-hour, local broadcast tradition, a figure much larger than that is reflected on the fundraising board.

“We are very proud of that number. People always want to know that total. That’s their connection to what their $10, in memory of grandma, went toward,” professed Tom Nelson, telethon co-host and esteemed Prairie du Chien personality. “The part of this that makes the entire telethon so special—from the viewer to the contributor to the participant—is that every little bit makes a difference from our little corner of the world.”

Nelson and his longtime pal Tom Stram have co-hosted the telethon for decades, along with Stram’s daughter Natalie and WQPC persona Dan Moris.

The annual event is always anticipated because of its time-honored, small-town talent, yet it has kept up with the times of technology and each generation’s natural aptitude, Nelson pointed out.

“We have polished the format over the years, but the fact that it’s not a perfected, live show is what draws people in,” he said. “I like to think we’ve been able to keep current with the world around us, but it’s the same style of show that started over 40 years ago.”

In 2017, the total raised was $44,000. That brought the 42-year grand total to $852,285, according to the Eagles telethon committee. These monies have benefitted the UW Carbone Cancer Center, the UW Cardiovascular Medicine, Gundersen Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic Cardiology Center.

Nelson shared his enthusiasm about the new foundation of volunteers joining the efforts to plan and organize the telethon each year and participate by performing on air. He believes new blood is what’s going to help carry the event to raising $1 million and more for cardiology and cancer research. He recognized people such as Bob and Sharon Linzenmeyer, Melody Igou, Mike Stram, Dillon Petrowitz, Natalie Stram and Dan Moris for stepping up to help.

In addition to these newer volunteers, he listed notables the telethon wouldn’t be the same without, including Richard Hagensick and Mark Oehler of Mediacom; Tom Licht of CenturyLink; Talent coordinators Ruth Taylor, Kathy Atkins and Cathie Nelson; auction and phone organizers Joan Paulson, Ev Dow and Brenda Mimms; caricaturist John Mundt; the local Boy Scouts who sell concessions on site; performers such as Gretchen Faulkner, the Ding-A-Lings and Autumn Kivi; and website coordinator Randy Paske.

Nelson is also proud of the recurrent staples that have added pizzazz to the telethon, such as “Danny’s Moment,” during which the late Danny Ruehlow is remembered; “Looking Up Your Back Door,” a technology moment; the Tom & Tom Show; the Tree of Hope, through which those currently battling cancer are acknowledged; and the symbolic Memory Wall coordinated by the Prairie du Chien High School Student Council.

This year, he noted two entities are being added to the $1,000+ Hearty Donors list. The employees of Peoples State Bank and the Dillman family will now join MPC, the Sew Watts, the 12th Street Telethon Party, John Mundt, the Boy Scouts, the 1502 and Eagles Auxiliary and the PdC wrestlers who do “Pushups for Pennies” each year.

“Everybody’s got a jar of pennies or coins they can bring down to the telethon,” Nelson stated. “That gives people a way to get involved in this small community cause. Once the money leaves our hands, it’s directly deposited into the hands of organizations that can start planning research. It’s really touching to know the difference we can make.”