Telethon organizer gladly works through the night Volunteer targets Muscular Dystrophy


Once a year, Nancy L. Boone willingly gives up a night's sleep to coordinate Carroll County's efforts in the annual Muscular Dystrophy telethon.

"I just work straight through," she said. "I come here at 10 p.m. and stay until the next 10 p.m."

She has little time to rest in that 24 hours, between counting

pledges and reporting new totals every 15 minutes to Channel 2 in Baltimore, which broadcasts the national telethon.

"When people see that total on their television screens, our pledges are in there," she said.

Before the show debuts at 11 p.m. Sept. 5, she has volunteers lined up to work four phones set up at the Samuel C. Hoff Agency in Westminster, where she works weekdays as an insurance agent.

The first year, she was a bit nervous about her ability to recruit enough volunteers. Now, as she organizes her fourth telethon, she draws from her list of "regulars," whom she notifies a few weeks before Labor Day. About 16 operators take five-hour shifts at the phones.

"This has just become a habit now," Ms. Boone said. "My employer is nice enough to let me use the office, and I know there are donations here to help us in the fight."

The "us" includes her 11-year-old son, Russell E. Boone Jr., who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy six years ago.

"He has one of the most common forms of the disease," she said."Duchenne affects mostly boys and is one of 40 diseases [the Muscular Dystrophy Association] works with."

The association has helped the Pleasant Valley family several times with equipment, and coordinating the telethon is a way to return the favors, she said.

Mostly recently, MDA filled in the gap between the cost and what the family insurer would pay for a power wheelchair. Russell will use that chair to move between classrooms at West Middle School where he will be a sixth-grader.

Russell also helps in the telethon office, where volunteers typically field about 200 calls in the 20-hour period. Donations roll in quickly for the first two hours, trickle in the rest of the night and pick up again steadily about 8 a.m., she said.

She defers her rest until the thank yous and pledge cards are in the mail -- usually about three hours after the telethon concludes.

Last year, Carroll County gave about $3,450 to the association. She said she hopes to match or exceed that total next week. In 1990, the county collected $5,300 with help from two $500


"We get quite a few $100 donations, but we gladly accept a dollar," she said. "We have had children come in and empty their piggy banks."

Walk-ins are welcome at the offices at 166 E. Main St.

& Information: 848-1115.

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