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"Branson Cares for Joplin" Benefit Concert and Telethon

The League of Branson Theatre Owners will present a concert and telethon for Joplin tornado relief Sunday evening June 26th at the Mansion Theatre in Branson. KSMU's Randy Stewart has more.

CINDY MERRY: When Joplin got hit by that tornado, I mean, everybody here was in shock. All of the shows were calling each otehr saying, "Okay, we've got to do something--what would be the best thing to do?"

RANDY: Cindy Merry, Chair of the marketing team for the Branson Theatre Owners League, says they've done it before, in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

CINDY: We at that time organized a special benefit and telethon that KY3 produced and uploaded to the satellite. So it was pretty successful.

RANDY: Cindy called Joplin-area TV stations KOAM Channel 7 and Fox 14 to check on the safety of friends there, and the idea for the "Branson Cares For Joplin" telethon grew out of that phone call.

CINDY: And in that conversation (I) said, "Hey, if you guys can figure out how to get the satellite uplink production done, we can put together this concert and make it happen, and the telethon. And you know the whole town of Branson will get on it. We've got over 100 volunteers right now working on all different parts of this whole big thing.

RANDY: "Branson Cares For Joplin" will be held Sunday June 26 from 7:00 to 10:00pm at the 3000-seat Mansion Theatre in Branson, and will be televised live via satellite on, among other outlets, the national RFD-TV network; CW-15 in Springfield; Mediacom cable channel MC-22 in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois; and on local TV stations from Bellingham, Washington to Greeville, Mississippi... not to mention radio simulcasts and a live webstream.

CINDY: In terms of just television households, we're up to about 50 million television households that we'll be reaching.

RANDY: More than 30 Branson acts are lined up for the show--both performing and manning the phone banks.

CINDY: Jim Stafford, Shoji Tabuchi and Carrie April Tillis will all be co-hosting the event--the list goes on and on. We've got some kids from Joplin that are in a choir; we've got some kids in the (Joplin) band coming over, so that will be kind of nice.

RANDY: Tickets to the live show are available for a donation of $50.00 or more, with a VIP meet-and-greet reception after the telethon for an addition $25.00. There will also be a silent auction during the event.

CINDY:Timothy Dutton contacted Lee Longman of the band Chicago, and we're getting two signed guitars for our silent auction. We're going to try and get up a list of what we're auctioning off so people will be able to call the telethon phone lines and put bids in. You can call and get your tickets to be there live at 1-866-707-4100, or you can go to www.joplinbenefit.com.

RANDY: All proceeds go to two projects: St.John's Mercy Hospital, which was demolished in the tornado, has promised to keep all 2200 of its employees on the payroll indefinitely. So part of the money will go toward helping the hospital maintain payroll while they rebuild. The rest of the money will help the Joplin School System, which lost five schools in the tornado, replace missing and destroyed musical instruments.

CINDY: The high school alone's got $280,000 worth of instruments that are... gone. We're hopint to not only assist monetarily, but we have a drive going on to collect donations of instruments themselves, that we can give back to the kids. We have several businesses helping with that project. For instance, Christian Ministries at College of the Ozarks is actually taking the instruments and having them refurbished and fixed. Palen Music Store up in Springfield and Hoover Music Store up there are helping. And then, St. John's Mercy Health System is helping to collect (musical instruments) also. And you can find out where you can bring those donations (of instruments) by going to www.joplinbenefit.com or www.mercy.net.

RANDY: That was Branson marketing consultant Cindy Merry. www.joplinbenefit.com is the go-to website for any and all information on the "Branson Cares for Joplin" Concert and Telethon, set for Sunday, June 26th from 7:00 to 10:00pm.