Telethon smashed all records to raise $20,701,272 million this year, bringing the total raised since it started in 1968 to more than $150 million tonight.
Over the past 46 years, WA’s highly successful charity event has helped improve the lives of thousands of WA children by raising money for Princess Margaret Hospital, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and about 50 other beneficiaries.
West Australians opened their hearts and wallets over the 26-hour event and smashed last year’s fundraising total of $16,805,622.
Mining entrepreneur Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola pledged to match each dollar donated for the first five hours of Telethon, through their Minderoo Foundation, which amounted to $1 million.
Crown Perth chief executive Barry Felstead doubled the company’s initial $1 million donation and James Packer handed over a personal cheque for $500,000.
Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes gave $1.5 million on behalf of Australian Capital Equity.
The Commonwealth Federal Government donated $2 million and Premier Colin Barnett handed over a cheque for $500,000 from the State Government.
Other significant donations included $1.5 million from Perth businessman Tim Roberts, who became Telethon’s latest million-dollar donor last year, and the McCusker Foundation, which gave $1 million.
The Telethon Adventurers, founded by Rick and Emily Parish in honour of their son Elliot, who lost his battle with cancer in 2011, has raised more than $1.1 million over the past year.
The Lexus Ball raised $558,000 on Saturday night, helped in no small part by Telethon children Tahlia Polmear and Jack Day.
They designed a pendant, which was made by Perth jeweller Solid Gold and worn by Perth singer Samantha Jade at the ball, and it was sold at auction in aid of Telethon for $42,000. Yesterday’s auction of the Honeywood Telethon home fetched $700,000.
Mr Stokes and Channel 7 Perth managing director Mario D’Orazio personally thanked all donors during the closing show last night.
“It brings together the whole community through-out the state and throughout the city,” Mr Stokes said.
Mr D’Orazio said: “Telethon is the single most important thing we do.”
He also paid tribute to departing musical director for more than 20 years Ken Walther.
Telethon manager Steve Mummery said he had been blown away by the staggering amount of money raised at the weekend.
“West Australians continue to astound me with their generosity, which has created the highest donating telethon per capita in the world — something we should all be very proud of,” he said.
Telethon is all about the kids and the child-to-adult ratio at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday was testament to that.
About 10,000 people descended on the city venue and donated a gold coin to watch the telecast as part of the studio audience or enjoy rides and entertainment.
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The live broadcast included performances by Tina Arena, Johnny Ruffo, Diesel and Samantha Jade.
More than 600 entertainers, 1300 volunteers and a 300-strong television production crew worked to stage the Telethon weekend at the convention centre and other locations across the State.
Since 1968 Telethon has raised over $150 million for the sick kids of WA.
Molly Meldrum, Brynne Edelsten and a host of Home and Away heart-throbs joined this year's fundraising effort.
Home and Away star Kassandra Clementi was manning the phones and tweeted: "I haven't put a phone down in an hour - You guys are flipping incredible."
The 2013 Telethon Home was auctioned this weekend for $700,000. The money goes towards the Telethon appeal total.
The Hamptons-style home, built by In-Vogue, is set in Satterley’s Honeywood Estate in Wandi.
Celebrities turned out last night to kick off the fundraiser including Johnny Ruffo and X Factor winner Reece Mastin. Tina Arena, Samantha Jade and Keeda took to the stage to show their support.
Entertainment and sport stars also took to social media to encourage people to donate.
Nic Naitanui, Lucy Durack, the Western Force, the West Coast Waves and Nic Westaway are among the celebrities that have been tweeting.
Johnny Ruffo tweeted a picture of himself with the message: “Hanging with Tahlia back stage at telethon!! She’s such a fighter! True Inspiration!”
Johnny Ruffo performed today at noon at Harbour Town’s Trade for Telethon event. The event also featured fellow Perth star Samantha Jade, Reece Mastin and Nathaniel Willemse.
Long-time Home and Away star Lynne McGranger said Telethon was something she looked forward to each year and the fundraiser brought out the best in people.
“I have been coming to Telethon on and off for the past 10 years,” she said.
“It is the one weekend we all look forward to and when people can’t make it they get disappointed.
“It is a very sobering but uplifting experience and shows humankind at its best. I don’t think there is another event like it – people do whatever they can to give.”
McGranger was among the stars who visited cancer patient Lucy Thomson yesterday.
Fifteen-year-old Lucy was diagnosed with a spinal tumour and has been at PMH since June this year.
She could not contain her smile when the celebrities piled into her room.
“Home and Away has always been her favourite show and since she has been at PMH it has been her nightly ritual,” Lucy’s sister Gemma said.
“She was really excited to meet the stars.”
Ian Dickson, affectionately known as “Dicko”, of Sydney’s 2UE radio, said Telethon was a moving and enjoyable experience.
“I love coming to the hospital to see the kids. I am always so impressed by the atmosphere – you wouldn’t even know you were at a hospital,” he said.
“It is great to see how brave the kids are.”
Dicko admitted to “having a blubber” in his hotel room after Telethon, but felt privileged to be able to participate in the event.
Sunrise star Sam Armytage said the children at PMH were an inspiration.
“They are so brave and so funny and so inspiring,” she said. “I really admire their strength.
“We have a lot of fun over the Telethon weekend but this is what it is all about. We have got to remember the real reason we are here.”
The Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children are Telethon’s two major beneficiaries, enabling pioneering research.
Telethon Institute director Jonathan Carapetis, who took over from founder Professor Fiona Stanley last year, said the centre was changing its focus from producing breakthrough research to becoming an essential part of WA children’s health.