WTRC’s annual telethon attracts entertainment, 468 auction items
When the West Texas Rehabilitation Center telethon began its auction the first of last month, the afghans and quilts weren’t there.
“We received phone calls immediately,” said Justin DeLoach, director of donor relations for the WTRC. “We said, ‘They’re coming. Do not worry.'”
The 47th annual telethon auction featured 468 items, including a Chevy Colorado pickup and an autographed Dez Bryant jersey. But nothing seems to move bidders like quilts and afghans.
In the 40 years they have participated in the auction, the quilts have raised $ 1 million for the rehabilitation center.
“We have 15 groups of quilts contributing to the auction,” DeLoach said. “And, you know, quilts don’t just happen overnight.”
The story of how quilts became a part of the auction is legendary. DeLoach has been with the WTRC for six telethons, but he knows the story well. It appears that two women who had no money to donate to the cause laid down a quilt to see if it could raise funds.
DeLoach said the staff didn’t know what to do, but longtime host actress Susan Hayes with husband Bill knew exactly what to do. She draped the quilt over her shoulders, took the stage, and started taking offers. And, thus was born the legend.
This year’s auction features 25 afghans and more than 50 quilts, making up almost 20 percent of all items. The 468 items have a value of $ 380,000.
“If we can make $ 175,000 to $ 200,000, we’ll be happy,” DeLoach said. “This is what we are aiming for. “
The items won can be collected on Sunday afternoon. After that, people will have to go through the rehabilitation center to get them back. Items that have not been auctioned remain available to bidders after the telethon.
A change in this year’s auction is a mobile application, called the Handbid App, which allows bidders to use their smartphones to bid on items. DeLoach said the app improves online auctions by making them faster. Last year’s auction included bidders from all states.
“People will come here and go, like (the staff at) Dyess, and they’ll tell other people about it,” DeLoach said.
We are a long way from the pre-Internet era when the telethon featured a live auction. DeLoach said that a live auction can handle just over 100 items. From the internet, auctions have exploded. This year’s auction had the most items, a record that will likely only be valid until next year.
“I think we’ll have 500 next year,” he said.
Collecting the items is an easy sale, DeLoach said.
“Thank goodness we live in the community we live in and with the people we have,” he said. “We have so many great salespeople that we just met and they say, ‘It’s rehab time again.’ Here is our auction item. ‘”
Articles often come from celebrities who have performed in rehab functions. Red Steagall, who performs on the Telethon annually, donated a gift box, while Vince Gill, who performed at the Rehab Dinner Show in August, donated a guitar.
DeLoach said Gill’s tour of the facility had a profound impact on the country music superstar.
“We have a client who plays piano on Thursdays and she was playing ‘How Great Thou Art’,” DeLoach said. “Vince Gill stopped and said it was the first song his grandmother had taught him to play. Big tears rolled down her face. I get chills just thinking about it.
With all the souvenirs and other valuables, is anyone ever trying to donate an item the rehab just doesn’t want? If that happens, DeLoach is far too diplomatic to tell.
“Sometimes we’re given something that would work better with another of our events, and we have to have a little chat,” he said. “It always works well.”