SANTIAGO – It is almost that time of the year again. A grand entertainment spectacle will start at 22:00h on November 30, and it will last 27 hours, with the aim of raising as much money as possible for Chilean children that suffer from developmental disabilities (most commonly cerebral palsy).
Teletón is an annual event that takes place in November, except usually during election years. Teletón is a Chilean tradition that started in 1978, as a result of members of SPANL, the Society for Help of Disabled Children, partnering with a famous television personality, Mario Kreutzberger, better known as “Don Francisco,” to bring awareness to the suffering and need for more funding for children with disabilities. Since the first year, Teletón has raised over US$286 million in donations.
More than a fundraising event
Every year the goal is to raise at least the amount of money donated the year before, and, hopefully, exceed it in order to compensate for inflation. Teletón has accomplished this goal every year except one time since 1978.
The event has turned into more than just a fundraising event. It has become a time of national unity, in which all of Chile comes to together to give what they can to support a good cause.
Since its inception, proceeds from Teletón have been used to build 14 new facilities throughout the country to support children’s rehabilitation needs.
The event has been known to draw performances from many top entertainers, Chilean and international alike. Throughout the event there will be celebrities and supporting staff taking calls from people to process donations.
What can you do?
So how can you give? Simply watch TV on November 30. It won’t be hard to miss Teletón events because they will be aired on all national networks simultaneously. There will be phone numbers and other resources provided in order to help you to make a donation.
In addition, Banco de Chile will be open all day on Saturday for anyone who wants to come in to any of their branches to make a donation; and major Chilean brands ranging from clothes retail to food products will be offering to donate a percentage of the profits from any products bought that bear the Teletón cross symbol on them.
Although many Chileans see the Teletón as a uniting event, critics regularly raise their voices, too. One complaint revolves around the promotion of excessive consumerism, which serves the bottom line of companies and their image, and the surplus revenues thus generated are presented as actual donation.
Host Don Francisco’s defense of the Matte family caused also unease. The Mattes are a major donor and among the most powerful families in Chile. Through price fixing in their paper towel business they violated market rules and hurt consumers for over a decade, but Teletón apparently has no problem taking money created with such questionable activity.
For critics, this highlights the general tendency of corporations to use Teletón to whitewash transgressions, while it also provides the government an excuse to ignore its constitutional responsibilities of caring for the disabled.
This is an amended version of the article originally posted.