Local News

WRAL & UCP Tradition Continues with Star Fest '98

Posted January 16, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST

— A 29-year tradition continues this weekend. Star Fest '98, a celebration for United Cerebral Palsy, began once more on Sunday morning. It's a tradition of helping that can really change lives.

Retired WRAL TV5 anchor Charlie Gaddy carried the microphone for the early telethons... back when Dennis James took the fundraiser from town to town.

Listen toauor Real Audiofile. "I guess my earliest memories are, 'Gosh, this is live. This is 19 and a half hours. What am I doing here? How am I going to do it?'"

Listen toauor Real Audiofile. "He had an amazing strength and an amazing way of pacing himself, and he truly believed in the cause." Jane Phillips, of UCP of North Carolina, remembers telethons 20 years back. She says James would do the big telethon in New York City, then travel across the country. Raleigh was among his stops.

Evidence of many of those memories survive only in her scrapbooks.

Listen toauor Real Audiofile. "We had Danny Bonaduce from the Partridge Family, Robert Reed from the Brady Bunch... The Hagers, stars of Hee Haw." For Gaddy, Burt Reynolds and James Brolin come to mind. National stars came to town in the early years before Star Fest became a national television production with local cut-ins.

According to UCP's Towana Green, despite the scaled back show here at home, donations have increased all the more.

Listen toauor Real Audiofile. "WRAL.. your viewing area has actually increased and our watchers and supporters have increased. So we've gone from minimal thousands to millions." Your generosity over the years has made Star Fest not only a rich tradition, but one that has transformed lives.

If you'd like to continue the tradition of giving, Star Fest '98 will be on WRAL-TV until 7 p.m. Sunday.

A portion of this year's broadcast will come from North Hills Mall with some fabulous entertainment. Merchants at the mall are helping the cause this year by donating $1,000 to United Cerebral Palsy.