29th Annual Catalyst Rehab Telethon

29th Annual Catalyst Rehab Telethon

The pandemic has taken its toll on a lot of people emotionally, physically and mentally. Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of one’s self and their loved ones have prevented those people from seeking out the familial support they need. 

With so many people battling personal issues this year, mental health & addiction services are needed now more than ever. 

Catalyst Life Services is one of the many mental health services that’s seen an influx of people in need of their mental health, addiction, vocational and audiology and deaf services.

“This year is important for us because we are seeing an increase in new clients, and so the more money that we can raise from this event, the more we can help the people that we serve,” said Melissa Drozda, Marketing and Development Director for Catalyst Life Services. 

This year marks the 30th year of Catalyst hosting their annual telethon to raise money. The funding that comes from the telethon helps serve people that otherwise wouldn't be able to access all of Catalyst’s life changing services. The event is their biggest fundraiser of the year. 

Every year, the fundraiser is televised live from the Richland Mall, but due to the pandemic, the fundraiser will be televised and hosted virtually through WMFD. Sponsors giving check presentations will send in pre recorded messages, which Drozda considers one of the new, exciting developments for the virtual telethon..

 “We can get more people; more faces on TV this year in various locations, showing the tremendous community support of this event,” Drozda explained. “The phone banks will be handled differently as well, and we've been meeting with the committee and thinking of creative ways that we can still virtually solicit those important donations.” 

Nick Gesouras, Telethon Chairman, will continue his hosting duties as he’s done throughout the years. Though it will be a lot different this year than years past, he wants to continue to help elevate Catalyst, not just for the community’s benefit, but for North Central Ohio in general. He aids in the campanology of the holiday season by donating as well.

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The Catalyst Sign Choir performs "Roar" by Katy Perry in American Sign Language during the 2020 Catalyst Life Services telethon.

“For me personally, there's no better feeling than the ability to give or facilitate—the ability for one to give to help others,” Gesouras said.

With the event going virtual, entertainment will have a new feel this year as well. Performers will be submitting songs along with a personal message. Some local musicians such as Jai Merina, Pioneer Performing Arts and Miss Ohio 2019 winner Caroline Grace Williams will be returning to support the event. However, with the adaption of entertainment this year, a wider range of artists will be able to also participate such as local natives Jonathan Hape and Steev Richter that have since moved away from the area. Speakers will also include past and current clients at Catalyst to tell their success stories and share how Catalyst has helped them.

Last year, the telethon raised over $120,000, and Drozda hopes to reach an even higher goal this year. 

“My goal is always to raise more than the year before,” Drozda said. “My hope is that we're able to raise more than $120,000, especially with it being the 30th anniversary, and with people really understanding the great need for our services right now.”

The Catalyst Telethon takes place on Feb. 6 and will go from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Since the event is still over a month away, businesses looking to sponsor the telethon or present their checks virtually can reach out to Drozda by email.

Donations can be made throughout the year and well before the telethon. To donate, visit the donation page on the Catalyst website and make sure to tune in to WMFD to watch live.

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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter for Richland Source and Content Specialist for Source Brand Solutions. She graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.