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Friday, Feb 21, 2020

Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon set for March 5 and 6, supports Niswonger Children’s Hospital

Patients, team members and physicians of the region’s only children’s hospital will take center stage on March 5 and 6 for the 2020 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon.

Now in its eighth year, the radiothon brings the community together to support Niswonger Children’s Hospital, its programs and its patients. The radiothon is the children’s hospital’s second largest annual fundraiser, and to date, it has raised more than $1 million for babies, children, teenagers and their families in the Appalachian Highlands.

“I often wish people could walk in the shoes of the Niswonger Children’s Hospital team members and physicians, because those inside the building get to experience every day how lives are impacted by this facility and the care we give children and families,” said Lisa Carter, chief executive officer of Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health’s vice president of pediatric services. “The radiothon is the next best thing to that – we can open up Niswonger Children’s Hospital and share the stories of our patients, their families and our amazing team members.

“It’s impossible not to be affected by these inspiring people and their lives, and it’s our hope that when our communities tune in to the radiothon, they’re moved to support the work and the hospital that make it all possible.”

The 2020 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon will support the hospital’s child life and therapy services departments. The specially-trained caregivers on those teams often provide simple games, crafts or toys to help cheer and distract children while they’re undergoing medical treatment.

They also specialize in medical play, a therapeutic approach to educating children about every aspect of their care. For instance, child life team members might empower a child to take a caregiver role with a doll or stuffed animal, so they can practice giving the toy an IV or putting it through a toy MRI machine.  

“Children aren’t just small adults,” said Amanda Ward, manager of the child life services program. “They have their own way of perceiving the world, dealing with their emotions and facing challenges, and often, the best way to relate to them and help them process their experiences is through play.

“With play, our child life specialists have powerful tools to help children cope with the unfamiliar environments and complex feelings they might have while they’re in the hospital, and it makes a big difference in not only their emotional state, but their physical healing as well.”

Radiothon proceeds will also help Ballad Health Foundation furnish the children’s hospital with a new playground. When completed, the playground will be adaptive and inclusive to Niswonger Children’s Hospital patients of all abilities, and it will also be available to visiting siblings.

The playground will also be part of the children’s hospital’s therapy department and feature a saucer swing, roller slide and musical center that can be used to further children’s treatment plans.

“With this special equipment, what looks like play to a child can actually be important physical and occupational therapy,” Ward said.

The Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon will be broadcast live on four of Holston Valley Broadcasting Corporation’s radio stations (98.5 WTFM, 95.9 The Hog WRZK, Classic Hits 102.7 WVEK, and ESPN Tri-Cities) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. News Channel 11 anchors Sydney Kessler and Josh Smith will also broadcast live from the event in the children’s hospital lobby.

Phone bank teams made up of volunteers will be set up in the lobby of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and they will receive and make calls for donations during the radiothon – interested donors can call 855-611-KIDS (5437) to make their pledges, beginning on March 5. Donations can also be accepted at any time by visiting or texting KITE to 51555.

Past radiothons have funded several critical needs, including the addition of the Special Care Unit, a unit in Niswonger Children’s Hospital dedicated to caring for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and other special needs, as well as the purchase of critical items such as a pediatric ambulance, incubators, syringe pumps and other supplies for the neonatal intensive care unit.

“The Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon is absolutely one of the best events for our children,” Carter said. “For these two days, our community comes out in force to support them – and the future – of our region. It’s truly inspiring, and I’m so excited for this year.”

For more information about the 2020 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon, or to volunteer for the event, please visit or email

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