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YOU DID IT! The 61st Annual Variety Kids Telethon officially raised $1,025,808! We cannot thank you enough. We are unbelievably thrilled and this means everything to us! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who donated, sponsored, volunteered, entertained and rooted for our kids right here in our hometown. We LOVE you!

Check out the photos from the 2023 Telethon

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Over 60+ years of serving and helping the kids who need us the most and that is all thanks to amazing donors like YOU!  With your continued support we are able to provide our children right here in our hometown with the care they need. 

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For The 61st Annual Variety Kids Telethon we were proud to have:
     -Avanyah White, as the 2023 Celebrity Child
     -Rick Hamister, Senior Vice President, Great Lakes Region President of Northwest Bank as  Celebrity Chair
     -Frank Lignos, Owner of Shurfine Eden Market “Your Market On Main!” as Telethon Chair
     -Bill Simon, as Telethon Co- Chair

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Celebrity Child: Avanyah White
Avanyah Antoinette White was born September 5th 2018, 3lbs 6oz, at 32 weeks gestation at Oishei Children’s Hospital. She lives as an only child with her mother Unique White. It was discovered that Avanyah’s lower extremities were not developing as they should have been at 16 weeks gestation. This is believed by geneticists at Oishei Children’s Hospital to be due to genetics rather than any complications in pregnancy. 

At birth, Avanyah was diagnosed with tibial hypoplasia. Her mother made the decision to have her legs amputated at the age of 10 months at Oishei Children’s Hospital.  Unique, Avanyah’s mother was the same age when she had the same procedure. 

Avanyah received her first pair of prosthetic limbs at the age of two and began walking very shortly after. Two years later she is now in preschool and thriving!   

A very fun fact, Avanyah’s great grandmother Katrina was on the very first Variety Kids Telethon, 61 years ago.   We are blessed to have this amazing family a part of Variety. Read Avanyah’s full story.

Honorary Chair: Rick Hamister
Mr. Rick Hamister will serve at the Honorary Chair for the 2023 Variety Kids Telethon.

In April of 2018, Rick Hamister was named president of Northwest’s New York Region, an area that includes 35 branches in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Monroe counties. Northwest has taken on a more competitive role with other banks in Western New York since acquiring 18 First Niagara branches in 2016.

Mr. Hamister, an Orchard Park native, grew up with his mother being a teller, so he always knew the banking industry was for him. He was hired by First Niagara Bank in 2005, and became part of KeyBank after the conversion in 2016. Before he was named the NY Region President at Northwest, he was a vice president with Key Bank’s private banking. The Canisius College graduate also previously was executive vice president for the Hamister Group, and prior to that he worked for M&T Bank for 10 years.

Mr. Hamister plays an active role in the community as well. He currently serves on the board for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Hilbert College, and Orchard Park Country Club.

Telethon Chair: Frank Lignos
Frank Lignos, a member of the Variety Board of Directors and currently serving as Second Assistant, will be the 2023 Variety Kids Telethon Chairman. 
Frank is a successful owner/ operator of the ShurFine Eden Market, “Your Market On Main” and has been a member of Variety for many years.
Telethon Co- Chair: Bill Simon
Bill Simon, a member of the Variety Board of Directors currently serving as the Comptroller and  will be the 2023 Variety Kids Telethon Co-Chair. After 48 years of Retail Management he retired and currently delivers Meals on Wheels four days a week. 

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We are over the moon to have raised over ONE MILLION DOLLARS and truly appreciate your support of the beloved Variety Kids right here in Buffalo and WNY!

The funds raised directly support Oishei Children’s Hospital, and other Children’s charities. The 61st annual telethon event aired Saturday, March 4, 2023 on WGRZ-TV Channel 2, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo from 6pm until 11pm, and Sunday, March 5, 2023 from 10am until 8pm on WBBZ-TV, the locally owned MeTV affiliate, broadcast on Channel 67.1 on-air; Cable 5.  Both days were held LIVE from the Variety Headquarters in Lancaster, New York.

The Channel 2 on-air personalities Saturday, and WBBZ-TV personalities Sunday, joined attorney Paul Cambria, President of Variety, along with Darius Pridgen, President of the Buffalo Common Council and Bishop of the True Bethel Baptist Church, in hosting the event. 

This year’s Celebrity Child was Avanyah White.  Avanyah along with her mother Unique, her grandmother and great grandmother joined General Chairman Frank Lignos, Co-Chairman Bill Simon and Honorary Chairperson Rick Hamister from Northwest Bank, with talent that included Buffalo native Frankie Scinta, Joshua Vacanti from NBC-TV’s “The Voice” and many more talented artists from right here in Buffalo & WNY!  Video stories were presented featuring Oishei Children’s Hospital, members of the medical team, past Celebrity children, and patient stories profiling the miracles that happen at Oishei Children’s Hospital every day.

In addition, we honored the many “Hometown Heroes” here in Buffalo & WNY. Over the past year, the area has endured so much. Some amazing people and organizations came to the aid of many during difficult times.  Variety was so proud to be able to spotlight those who have helped others, serving as inspiration to support the children and families we serve.


Thank you to all of our sponsors and partners who helped make Telethon a huge success!

See the full list of our incredible Sponsors

Our Sponsors

See the full list of our amazing Partners

Our Partners

Here is a little history about the Telethon:
The Variety Kids Telethon, now in its 61st year, is the nation’s longest-running, locally-produced telethons – and its home is right here in WNY! It all started back in 1962, when Dr. Robert Warner asked Variety to help him fulfill his dream of a rehabilitation center for children with special needs. The first Annual Variety Kids Telethon raised over $80,000, and the Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center for Children with Special Needs became a reality at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

Since then, the Telethon has been a WNY treasure, all thanks to the tens of thousands of Western New Yorkers who tune in and pledge their support every year. The Telethon funds dozens of local children’s nonprofits, in addition to the Hospital, and every penny stays right here in WNY. It’s because of this we say “Variety is WNY.” We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you, WNY!

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