In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, in which 20 children ages 6 and 7 perished at the hands of a gunman with undetermined motives, the Spanish-language network Univision hosted the first 28-hour Teletón USA (USA Telethon) to raise millions for kids with disabilities, cancer, and autism.
After alluding to the day’s massacre, from 10 p.m. on Friday to 2 a.m. on Sunday, Don Francisco, the host of the weekend variety show Sábado Gigante, lead the initiative to raise $7 million by Sunday with the help of over 100 Latino stars.
Broadcast live from Miami, New York, Texas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico the event raised more than $8.15 million to help children’s hospitals across the country and build the first children’s rehabilitation center in the United States, the Centro de Rehabilitación Infantil Teletón (CRIT).
“This is a huge step, we are very happy,” Mexican actress, and co-host of the event, Galilea Montijo told HuffPost Voces. “I’ve done several telethons in Mexico and I can say that this is real, effective. A lot of people had doubts and didn’t believe, [but] today we are showing them that it’s real and [we are showing them] everything that can be done by simply donating a small sum of money.”
During the telethon, 28 families recounted their own struggle with their children’s health. Between testimonies, stars like Cuban-American Gloria Estefan, Mexican pop star Paulina Rubio, Latin Grammy-winning duo Jesse & Joy, and Cuban actor William Levy helped with musical performances and the introduction of different segments.
“I want to thank God, our creator, and all of these children,” said the President of Teletón USA Fernando Landeros, after seeing the Telethon had surpassed its original goal by over $1 million. “I want to tell all of those who donated ‘thank you very much’ and to all the children, you’ll have your CRIT very soon.”