Local organizers had their own version of Wednesday night's "Idol Gives Back" episode of American Idol.
In Elliston, more than 100 people gathered as they have done every Wednesday to watch the results show at Trinity United Methodist Church. This time, they presented a check for $5,000 to the Toledo-based Diabetes Youth Services group, which runs camps for children who have diabetes.
Crystal Bowersox, Elliston native and "American Idol" front-runner, asked for proceeds from the sale of T-shirts bearing her name to be donated to the group. She attended the camp when she was a child.
About 1,600 red shirts -- which read "Crystal Bowersox, Our American Idol" and have a hand in the shape of a peace sign on the front and "Elliston, Ohio supports Crystal Bowersox & I do too," on the back -- have been sold or ordered. Between $2 and $3 a shirt goes to the diabetes organization. Some money was raised through a chicken barbecue last weekend.
Susan Harms, director of Diabetes Youth Services, was excited about the enormous check that was presented before the "American Idol" show started. "I was floored," she said. "It costs about $1,000 to send a kid to camp."
Much of that amount is underwritten by the group, so families end up paying "way less than half, 20 to 40 percent depending on the camp, and 25 percent of those families don't pay anything at all," Harms said.
The group also provides educational services and school support programs. Along with money, some people donate medical supplies, food or time.
Harms was impressed Bowersox wanted donations to benefit the organization. "She asked that the proceeds from the T-shirts go to us," she said. "It's priceless. She's a role model. She is an idol."
Elizabeth Winters, 12, of Oak Harbor, attended the camp two years ago and plans to attend again this summer. There she learned about giving herself insulin shots and counting carbohydrates. She also participated in horseback riding, zip-lining, swimming and skits. "I think it's amazing that people would donate that much money to help people with diabetes," Winters said.
She learned Bowersox was diabetic when she heard of the singer's medical problems earlier in the season. She was inspired. "That meant a lot to me that she's on there. If you put your mind to it you can do anything, even if you have a disease," she said.
Other campers attended Wednesday's event. Ethan Van Wormer, 12, said he felt great about the donation. Theresa Hornik, 13, said she was glad a lot of kids would be able to go to camp because of the gift. Both children are from Toledo.
Rachel Wilder, 13, of Whitehouse, said she learned a great deal at camp. "I learned actually how to do my first shot there," she said.
Terry Rudes of the Diabetes Youth Services group said the donation helps the small organization. "We are a small non-profit. We don't have any support from any national or local diabetes organizations," she said.
About 75 children ages 10 through 15 will attend the camp this summer, and 35 children ages 6 through 9 will go to a day camp. The first event for children up to age 5 will be May 8 at the Toledo Zoo.
Jane Graffin was a camp dietitian when Bowersox attended. "I've never forgotten Crystal," she said. "I let her sing at night in our cabin. ... She's always been so extremely talented."
Even then, in the 1990s, Bowersox had an amazing voice. "It kind of took your breath away," Graffin said. She said Bowersox liked being at the camp, where being a child with diabetes was no big deal. "It was a place Crystal could be herself and get support from people like her. There, they're the norm."
Hazel Tabbert, along with some of her friends, sported the familiar red T-shirt and was happy her purchase supported a good cause. "I probably wouldn't have bought it if it didn't," she said. Then she thought for a moment. "Yes, I would," she said with a smile.
To donate to the camp, visit dys4kids.org.
Download Crystal's AI performance singles and videos Now
SOURCE: Port Clinton Herald News
Note: The t-shirts shown on this Blog are not the charity t-shirts. Will check to see if they are available in large enough quantities to be offered here, or if they are just selling them locally.