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

MANSFIELD -- Local performers, community figures and area businesses all came out Saturday to support the 2020 Catalyst Rehab Telethon, filmed live at the Richland Mall.

In nine hours, the event raised $116,608 for Catalyst Life Services in Mansfield. 

Catalyst Life Services provides a wide range of support to the community, including mental health services, audiology and deaf services, addiction services and vocational services.

The annual telethon has been a key fundraiser for Catalyst Life Services for nearly three decades.

“If I’m not mistaken, it’s been held here every year except for the first year or two,” said Jodi Scott, manager of Richland Mall. “I love this event every year. There’s always so much activity, so much traffic and of course it’s for a great cause.”

While organizations such as Element of Art and the Richland County Park District provided children’s entertainment in the wings, local business owners, union representatives and clubs manned the phones and offered donations on stage.

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Volunteers from Phillips Tube Group work the telephone donation station during the 2020 Catalyst Life Services Telethon.

“I’m incredibly thankful to the community donors who support Catalyst and our services,” said Laura Montgomery, president and CEO of Catalyst Life Services. “We have a lot of the same sponsors support us year after year.”

“I can’t think of a better organization that provides better services for our community. And it’s local, which is a very important thing,” said Zoi Romanchuk, vice president of PR Machine Works.

John Valentine was just one of the volunteers who made the event possible. Valentine and other representatives from the former United Auto Workers Local 549 came out to the mall to sit by donation buckets and hand out balloons. According to Valentine, volunteers from the group have helped out at the telethon for more than ten years.

For him, supporting the mission of Catalyst Life Services has personal significance. 

“My mother was hearing impaired. She lived her entire life that way,” he said. “She struggled all the time.”

His mother lacked support services like Catalyst offers today. She immigrated from England and never got the chance to learn American Sign Language.

“Catalyst wasn’t here, but I wish they had been,” he said.

Amanda Stone has benefitted extensively from Catalyst Life Services. The organization helped her get hearing aids and provides her with an interpreter for doctor’s appointments. She is also a member of the Catalyst Sign Choir, which she said is like a family to her.

“I really feel inspired,” Stone said after the choir’s performance at the telethon. “It really helps me feel connected to music. I'm deaf, but I can sign and dance to music and I feel connected to it.”

Joe Trolian, executive director of the Richland County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, praised the organization for its holistic support system.

“When we approach the idea of battling behavioral health issues, it takes a comprehensive approach,” he said. “It's not just the treatment. It's not just the medication. It's the vocational services, the education in the community, the transportation, the housing and Catalyst is the whole package.”

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