DRACUT — After hundreds of promotional goods and services had been purchased by viewers at home and on the Internet, after dozens of big-ticket items had been auctioned off, and after a host of performers had come on and gone off the stage over a four-night span, the 27th annual Dracut Scholarship Foundation Telethon had raised an impressive $112,126.
The money started coming in fast and furious on Friday night, March 19. A $3,000 donation from TD Bank, another $1,600 to see board member and local insurance agent Glenn Mello do his “King Tut” dance, and more dollars poring in to see high- school teacher Mike McElhenney shave his overgrown beard and cut his hair.
“To break $100,000, especially in this economy, is an incredible accomplishment,” said DSF President Michael Sancartier. “It’s always an incredible week that just leaves you exhausted, but incredibly excited and grateful to the community.”
Hundreds of volunteers, including all 25 board members, a countless number of parents and teachers and some 50-to-60 high-school seniors, helped pull off the four-night production. More than $27,000 in products and services were auctioned off throughout the Telethon. More money came in from the goods and services being sold on the promo board. Then there are the sponsors, like Woburn Foreign Motors or the Committee to Elect Jamison Tomasek. Or groups and individuals who stopped by the studio to drop off a sizable check from the Dracut Fire Department or the Dracut Police Department, or the school custodian’s union or the school cafeteria workers.
Several years ago, the foundation began the $10,000 cash giveaway. Two hundred tickets are sold at $100 a piece. A name is drawn and the lucky winner walks away with 10 grand. This year’s winner was former board member and past president Darlene Ducharme, who was spending the weekend in North Conway, N.H., according to Sancartier.
“Darlene’s the person who came up with the idea of a raffle several years ago,” Sancartier said, adding that she doubled her chances by buying two $100 tickets.
“Somebody is trying to get in touch with her right now,” Sancartier said moments after Ducharme’s name was pulled.
The Telethon also provides a showcase for serious talent. From the Dracut High School show choir to a small group of young violinists led by teacher Robin Mallory; from the DHS a cappella choir to 12-year-old Ian Gordon ripping the licks from Guns ‘N Roses’ “Sweet Child O Mine” on his Gibson Les Paul.
And all along the way there are jokes and impromptu moments, like when the selectmen were defeated by the School Committee in the game-show parody, Are You Smarter Than A Dracut High Senior? and a $100 side wager was placed. Upon losing the game, someone was overheard telling selectmen that their annual stipend — a controversial topic the last few weeks — would come in handy in order to pay off the bet.
The Dracut Scholarship Foundation was the brainchild of the late Christos Daoulas and retired DHS Principal Bruce Hutchins, who began the telethon some 27 years ago. In that time, the foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million to almost 2,000 deserving seniors.