ERT Special Olympics Telethon wins both hearts and donations

The ERT Special Olympics Telethon was a great success, and not only for the sum of 700,000 euros that it has already raised, while more keeps coming in. The great achievement was the sight of the young athletes, their spontaneity, their ready smiles and the way they faced the cameras. All that and the messages of the personalities who visited the studio raised public awareness. The image of Greek President Karolos Papoulias in his office appeared on the screen and he expressed his support for the cause, while Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a message encouraging all people with special needs to participate in community affairs. «The important thing in the Special Olympics is not so much to win as to participate,» he said. It was a serious telethon and throughout it the presenter, Maria Houkli, and Special Olympics President Yianna Despotopoulou demonstrated that television, in this case ERT, like the moon, has a bright side. There was no commercialization of the philanthropic spirit, no attempt to make the program into a show, and so there was no parade of business tycoons, TV serial stars or singers with platinum albums. The goals were achieved, the special children won everyone’s hearts, and the fact that a sizeable sum was collected from the donations of 10, 20 and 30 euros made by so many viewers – many of them the same age as the athletes, offering their pocket money – is a tremendous achievement.