Telethon 2021 smashes fundraising record with more than $62 million raised for sick kids

Charlotte Elton & Simon CollinsThe West Australian
VideoMark McGowan donated $10 million from the State Government as Telethon achieved a fundraising record of more than $62 million in 2021.

West Australians have achieved a record-breaking result for Telethon this year, raising more than $62 million for sick kids.

The fundraiser’s spirit of giving reached remarkable levels, with West Aussies from all over the State opening their hearts — and wallets — for those in need.

Toppling last year’s record of $46.3 million, 2021 marks the 12th consecutive year that the Telethon fundraising drive has broken the record set by the previous year.

Telethon chairman Richard Goyder thanks West Aussies for giving generously.

“Every cent is valued. We have some amazing philanthropists, and the shared community support for Telethon is particularly inspiring,” he said.

“Our Telethon beneficiaries are incredible people doing great things with huge amounts of passion and energy.”

Mr Goyder said that despite a tough year — with WA grappling with the uncertainty of border closures and the looming threat of COVID-19 restrictions — he was “always confident” West Aussies would dig deep for the annual fundraiser.

“As a community, we look after the people who need the most help,” he said.

Rove McManus, Tasma Walton, Telethon Stars Lucy Antipas and Oliver Lim, Brianna Throssell.
Camera IconRove McManus, Tasma Walton, Telethon Stars Lucy Antipas and Oliver Lim, Brianna Throssell. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

“When we do that, together, and everyone makes a contribution, that’s really special. We can’t thank everyone enough.”

This weekend’s mammoth donations drive brought the total amount raised by Telethon over 54 years to more than $400 million.

The State Government’s $10 million donation helped push the tally over the $62 million mark.

Surrounded by little Telethon stars Ollie Lim and Lucy Antipas, Mr McGowan handed over the State Government’s cheque — the last big donation of the evening.

“The State Government’s ongoing support goes towards helping WA’s world-class child health researchers, which is vital if we are to better understand diseases and chronic conditions, and find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat them,” he said.

“I’d encourage Western Australians to contribute generously to Telethon 2021 as they do every year because it’s this support that goes to helping Western Australian children.”

The donation marks a $4.5 million increase on last year’s $5.5 million cheque.

Premier Mark McGowan & Fat Cat chat chat backstage at Crown Theatre.
Camera IconPremier Mark McGowan & Fat Cat chat chat backstage at Crown Theatre. Credit: Matt Jelonek/Matt Jelonek/The West Australian

Other big donations included $3 million from Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity, $4 million from Rio Tinto, $2.5 million from Crown, and $2 million from Mineral Resources. On Saturday night, the Telethon Ball raised $5.5 million.

In 2020, COVID-19 restrictions meant the broadcast was split into two halves. This year, the much-loved 26-hour broadcast returned.

During the day, it was streamed from the Optus family fun day, where 24,000 West Aussies flocked to enjoy rides, activities, and sunshine.

In the evening, the broadcast returned to Crown where a stunning closing show — hosted by Channel 7 presenter Basil Zempilas — showcased some of WA’s biggest stars.

Fremantle indie pop stars San Cisco performed for the first time at Telethon after touring clashed with the event in previous years.

Lead singer Jordi Davieson said it was important to “pay it forward” by supporting the annual fundraiser.

“We’re so lucky to be here and doing what we do ... I think it’s important to give something back,” he said.

Davieson said that musicians often support charity because they are generally “emotionally intelligent people”.

Telethon chairman Richard Goyder and Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes.
Camera IconTelethon chairman Richard Goyder and Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes. Credit: Telethon/Supplied

“To write good songs you kind of have to be,” he explained. “You need empathy and to have some sort of depth to you.”

Being in a band “can be a very self-absorbed thing … it would be terrible to not somehow pay that forward”.

The San Cisco frontman added it was great to see so many local bands playing live at Telethon this year.

“In the old days they used to have all sorts of incredible acts playing, like Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner,” Davieson said.

“I think that’s pretty cool.”

The crowd were also wowed by special live performances from the Ten Tenors, Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse.

Sporting favourites Nic Naitanui and Nat Fyfe and comedians Rove McManus and Ben Elton joined the line-up at the Crown Theatre.

Behind the scenes, hundreds of volunteers took phone donations. Many had worked through the night to keep the Telethon Cirrus call centre running. They were encouraged by the Little Telethon stars Ollie Lim and Lucy Antipas, who urged West Aussies to keep giving.

Donations can still be made via the Telethon website here.

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