Santa Rosa’s Froggy 92.9 raises $88,000 for St. Jude’s

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Although St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is named after Saint Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Sonoma County showed last week that curing children’s cancer is not hopeless.

During a radiothon fundraiser, Santa Rosa country music radio station Froggy 92.9 raised $88,035 for St. Jude’s kids.

For 26 hours on March 3 and 4, the station continued its classic country music format with the usual on-air hosts, but between songs played real life testimonials from St. Jude’s patients and families. The goal was encouraging listeners to sign as “Partners in Hope” with monthly donations or one-time gifts.

“My favorite part is hearing the names that come through as partners in hope, because I know some of them,” said Froggy radio host Daniel “Dano” Weir. “To me, it’s people you know telling you they support you and care about something you care about. It means a lot.”

Added Froggy radio host Stacy “Splash” Hoblitzell, “We’re always overwhelmed by the total. This community always does that to us. My favorite part is that everyone came together as a team.”

The team included volunteers, local businesses, Froggy staff, country artists and two representatives from St. Jude’s.

“We work with really great people,” said Cheria Young, development manager for St. Jude’s Pacific Coast Region. “At St. Jude’s, we’re like family, and at Froggy they have that same kind of energy.”

This is Froggy’s third radiothon for St. Jude’s, one of 250 held nationally to each year to support the Tennessee-based pediatric cancer center.

“The community here is really unique. They’ve really rallied behind us,” said Meredith Regan, associated director for St. Jude’s Pacific Coast Region. “It’s really touching and unique that people are calling in and thanking us for doing this.”

In addition to donating money, some listeners donated their time by answering calls and collecting donations at the Froggy studio.

“I volunteered last year and fell in love,” said volunteer Cathy Cover. “Everyone has been super nice and is super respectful of each other. It’s nice knowing Sonoma County and Marin County are getting behind this.”

The most eager of all the volunteers was Ronnie Duvall. He volunteered last year and was so inspired by it and the death of his friend’s daughter, he made a childhood cancer awareness campaign called “Driven_2make_change.”

His goal is to travel across 48 states this summer to raise awareness, find families in need, collect donations and finish in Tennessee by presenting a $50,000 check to St. Jude’s.

“I just want to try and save as many kids as possible,” Duvall said. “Our main focus is serving the children no matter what.”

Duvall volunteered 14 hours during the radiothon and donated $500 himself.

Froggy hosts worked all day both days and ended up physically and emotionally exhausted. Hoblitzell said they all took breaks to decompress from the intense emotions. Weir was buoyed by his January tour of St. Jude’s Memphis hospital.

“To be able to see Sonoma County’s Partner in Hope dollars at work just gave me all the more perspective as I returned for the radiothon,” he said. “You think it’d be a sad place, but it’s an amazing place. Great energy. I came back fired up.”

Local businesses also were fired up about the cause. Montgomery Village and G&C Auto Body donated $5,000; Willowbrook Alehouse donated $3,000; and Sonoma Backyard donated $1,000.

“The most surprising thing for us today is all the businesses that came out of the woodwork and donated. It’s great to see them backing up the community,” Young said.

Help didn’t just come from locally though. Dozens of country music artists donated signed memorabilia as incentives for those who donated.

All of this was in support of a hospital that treats about 7,800 kids a year, free of charge, in addition to supporting research about cures for childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.

“I love what they do for the kids,” said volunteer Susana Bruhn. “The kids need to survive. They’re our future.”

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