Local radio station WBKR has been hosting a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital radiothon for more than 15 years to raise money to end childhood cancer. For two days each year, the radio personalities invite their listening community to call in and donate in support of St. Jude.
It was during the 2018 radiothon that Case Howard, then four years old, was riding in the car with his mother in the car and she the radiothon was on.
Case’s mother Heather said while she was listening to the stories and imagining what the families at St. Jude endure, she knew she wanted to support the cause but wasn’t sure how.
“I really wanted to call in,” Heather said after hearing a mother discussing her daughter losing her hair from chemotherapy.
It was then that Case began asking questions about why the girl was losing her hair, why they had to go the hospital for medicine, if their parents stayed with them and the costs involved for the families.
“That conversation went on for quite a while,” Heather said. “His wheels got to turning.”
After a few more questions from Case about cost and the fundraising efforts and their purpose, Case said he wanted to donate, too.
“Because parents don’t need to pay for medicine,” Case said.
The Howards partnered with WBKR and sold candy, their farm-fresh eggs by the dozen and held a yard sale which raised more than $1,000.
“We sold anything and everything and people were giving triple the amount because they knew it was going to St. Jude,” Heather said.
Through sponsorships as well, Case was able to raise $3,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
During the radiothon, Case and his mother presented his fundraising efforts and because of his interest, WBKR radio personality Chad Benefield arranged a visit to St. Jude in Memphis for the Howard family so Case could see where the money was going.
Heather said that the visit was important to them and Case found it very important to continue his efforts.
Case has kicked off his fundraising efforts with a 2020 goal of $3,000 and a name for his group — Case’s Jude Crew. For the next five weeks, he will be fundraising and asking for sponsors to meet his goal. Case will also be part of WKBR’s 10th annual Denim and Diamonds concert, a fundraising concert that will be held Jan. 31 at the Empress Theatre.
The concert’s 2020 theme is “Kids for Kids.”
The annual concert provides entertainment but is interspersed with the mission of St. Jude, and Benefield said that it is “three parts entertainment and one part inspiration.”
Case will share his story that night and also be selling St. Jude bracelets. Heather said they hope to have other items to sell at the concert. People have offered a homemade quilt to raffle and many baked items, and she is considering the best way to involve the community in Case’s efforts.
The radiothon will be held on WBKR on Feb. 6 and 7 and during that time, Benefield said that they will feature members of the community who go live on the radio to help raise money during the radiothon.
Gavin Howard is another child, now 18, who was impacted by hearing the radiothon eight years ago, Benefield said. Gavin has been fundraising for St. Jude ever since.
“[Kids] understand some people their age not getting to do something they get to do and they want to help,” Benefield said.
Getting monthly donors, called Partners of Hope, for $20 a month for a year, is important for St. Jude, and this is the radiothon goal.
“WBKR actually has one of the highest Partners of Hope retention rates in the nation,” Benefield said.
According to the St. Jude website, the first month’s donation can provide equipment necessary for the treatment of St. Jude kids. Six months of giving can provide chemotherapy to a patient in need, and one year of giving can cover the cost of a patient’s access to physical therapy.
Advanced tickets for Denim and Diamonds are available at the WBKR radio station, 3301 Frederica St. Tickets will also be available at Theatre Workshop of Owensboro’s Empress Theatre box office starting at 5 p.m. the night of the show, Dec. 31. The show starts at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $10 per person.
To donate to Case’s Jude Crew, checks can be mailed to the radio station with Case’s Jude Crew in the memo line or on the envelope or donations can be made online through PayPal. Heather said people can also contact her directly and she will pick up the check.
“Every little bit will help and we sure need your help to make it happen,” Heather said.