Mark McCrory is the General Manager of Channel 7 Telethon Trust. In this interview, Mark discusses why Telethon is such a remarkable Western Australian community achievement over 55 years. He talks about the Great Escape’s support of Telethon and the money raised by the donated cruise at the 2022 Telethon Ball.
When was Telethon launched, and what was the original purpose?
Telethon started in 1968, and it was the brainchild of a couple of television executives who thought it’d be nice to use WA’s most popular television station to raise money for the children’s hospital.
What do you think are the main achievements of Telethon?
This year was Telethon’s 55th year, and we raised $71.4M, an incredible next record. Since 1968, Telethon has raised more than $500 million for children’s charities in Western Australia – a wonderful milestone achievement that the West Australian community should be proud of.
Why do you think it works so well?
People have grown up and lived in WA watching Telethon on Channel Seven, which is Western Australia’s number one TV channel and has been for a long time. It’s almost like most people of a particular vintage have grown up watching Telethon on TV and feel connected to it. It’s a very community-minded fundraiser, and it’s a much-loved Western Australian charity institution. People know that when you donate money to Telethon, it’s going to children’s charities and beneficiaries that help sick, disadvantaged and vulnerable kids.
What do you think it means to the families of kids needing medical support in Perth?
We raise a certain amount of money. We allocate it to a whole range of children’s beneficiaries. This year we supported 97 different beneficiaries and children’s charities, so that’s a phenomenal number. We meet all the time with families and kids who use services and medical equipment or benefit from research that is being delivered thanks to Telethon funding. Families of young children benefiting from Telethon-funded services often say, “You never think you’re going to be in this situation as a parent until you are. And when you are, you’re thankful that Telethon exists in WA and that you have these services available to you when your family and your children are in real need of a helping hand.”
Whenever I meet kids and parents, they’re always so grateful, and they understand that Telethon exists because of the generosity of West Australians. They know that their fellow West Australians are being generous and philanthropic in helping fund services that they’re benefiting from, and they’re really appreciative. They’ve been dealt a tough hand in life often, and their attitude is inspiring, and they’re so grateful that other people who they don’t even know would be so generous and happy to donate their money to help.
“This year we supported 97 different beneficiaries and children’s charities, so that’s a phenomenal number.”
“Kids are the future of our world. We want to support those kids who are doing it tough.”
Besides the Telethon televised event, are there other things that happen during the year?
The Telethon weekend broadcast in October is the cherry on top of a year of lots of work. Channel 7 Telethon Trust is a private trust that operates all year round. Telethon works closely with the charities it supports right across the year. It works with generous donors, corporate supporters and partners and the wider community. The Telethon Weekend broadcast is the finale of a year of work and a year of fundraising.
What are the ways that businesses can get behind Telethon?
WA is a very generous, community-minded State. I’ve heard people refer to WA as the “Giving State” where generosity supporting and helping others less fortunate is almost part of the community’s fabric. I think people love the idea of supporting a cause like Telethon to ensure that kids are looked after. Kids are the future of our world. We want to support those kids who are doing it tough. We want to give the sick, vulnerable, and disadvantaged children a better start in life. One of the key focus areas of Telethon is to work with the Western Australian community and all our partners to build a better and brighter future for Western Australian kids.
Why do Western Australian businesses get involved as much as they do?
Corporate supporters and businesses that donate to Telethon feel connected to helping because the wider WA community is so engaged with our purpose and cause. They all recognise that Telethon has been successful in WA because the community has helped build Telethon through its generosity and passionate support. What business wouldn’t want to get involved with a charity cause like Telethon, where you’re giving back? You are helping community organisations and children’s charities set up a better life for WA kids in need. Businesses want to get involved because the community loves it so much and because the corporate sector wants to give back to its community.
Also, many businesses have staff that have personally used Telethon-funded services and, as a result, feel very connected to the cause. I would’ve thought that in every workplace in WA, some staff member has had a child, a niece, a nephew, or a friend whose kids have benefited from Telethon.
How did Great Escape get involved with Telethon?
Great Escape donated a generous auction item. It was a beautiful seven-day travel experience in the Northern Gorges that fetched a nice sum of money at the Telethon Ball. The Ball is a major fundraising event of the year. That donation raised a lot of money, and its funds went towards a record total in 2022.
Do you get feedback directly from kids?
Every year we have the Little Telethon Stars, who represent the kids of WA who use services, need support, need medical equipment and benefit from research. Those little Telethon Stars symbolise all the different kids out there who need our help. What we love most about Telethon is that we regularly see kids helping other kids. There is nothing more powerful or beautiful in this world. Kids often donate their pocket money to Telethon, which has had a lasting legacy in this state. A lot of the time, it’s because maybe their friend has had cancer or has had a battle, and they want to help. This channel for assistance is something Telethon does well. It gives people a real opportunity to help others directly, and that flows on to become part of the ongoing fabric of our community.
You get to talk to a lot of the business sponsors. What do they describe as the main benefit of being involved with Telethon?
I think businesses who get involved in Telethon love that it is about grassroots community. They come along to the weekend, or if they come to one of our other events, they can see that. What I like to do is take a lot of people who support Telethon, whether it’s Mums and Dads, boys and girls, businesses, or sponsors, to take them out on seeing and believing tours. They see the charities and beneficiaries in action and meet the kids and families who benefit from the fundraising. It’s much more meaningful to hear directly from the families who benefit and see what that support means to them. It makes people feel good about being part of something bigger than themselves. Telethon is something we can all feel proud of.
If someone would like to get more involved with Telethon, what should they do?
For people outside WA to understand more about the event, they can view the 7Plus digital pop-up channel to watch some of the 26-hour Telethon broadcast.
There is also a list of the 97 organisations we supported in 2022.
Finally, I want to send a message of appreciation to the team at Great Escape and the owners, in particular. They have joined with the West Australian community to support Telethon in its work to provide a better, brighter future for our kids. Donating the cruise for auction at the Ball was a significant gesture, and we are very grateful to Great Escape for their generosity. Telethon is the envy of the east coast and internationally because it is unique. There is nothing like it anywhere. I want to thank Great Escape for being part of it.
“That donation raised a lot of money, and its funds went towards a record total in 2022.”