There are times when being a native of Louisville has its perks. Most people would think it's not that great of a place, but I can certainly find the silver lining of every cloud. Mostly known for our alliance with North and South as a neutral state, and the running of the Kentucky Derby, there's another annual activity here that kicks off the summer -- the Crusade for Children.
The Crusade began in 1954 by Barry Bingham, Sr., owner of The Courier-Journal (our local newspaper), WHAS-TV (one of our local network affiliates), and 84WHAS Radio (a local AM station). The focus of the Crusade was to hold an annual telethon to raise money for special needs children in the area. Volunteers from all of the Bingham companies would stay up for hours on end to run the show, on air, and behind the scenes. Partnering with all the volunteer fire departments in the community, road blocks would be set up and fire engines blazing to collect pennies, nickels, dimes, and huge checks from across the community to help children who couldn't help themselves. Events throughout the year would raise money and anyone who walks the streets of Louisville for long knows that when you say "The Crusade" you aren't talking about the Middle Ages.
Since its inception, the Crusade has helped over 3 million children - astonishing. Many generations have been touched by the Crusade, which causes an automatic endowment as families give in honor of those that were helped. Go to any of our pediatric units in town and you'll find some piece of whiz bang medical machinery with an inscripted plate that reads, "Donated by the Crusade for Children."
I've volunteered for the Crusade for over 10 years. Sometimes selfishly to admire the cute fireman, but I always leave there with a warm feeling in my heart and a pride for my hometown. Last night we ended the Crusade raising 5.3 million dollars, with another million in money from wills to be added to that total before it is over. I was proud to be a Louisvillian and a volunteer for the Crusade as I stood on the stage for the final curtain call singing God Bless America.