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18th annual Make-A-Wish Telethon to take place Thursday at Plum High School

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, 2:57 p.m.
Plum High School senior Melissa Meyers holds a microphone while Steven Fabian, 2002 graduate and correspondent for the television show, 'Inside Edition,'  talks about his friends from school at the district’s 17th annual Make-A-Wish telethon Dec. 23, 2016. Fabian is holding a photo taken 15 years ago of himself, fellow alum Jay DiFrank and district television production teacher Rick Berrott.
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Plum High School senior Melissa Meyers holds a microphone while Steven Fabian, 2002 graduate and correspondent for the television show, 'Inside Edition,' talks about his friends from school at the district’s 17th annual Make-A-Wish telethon Dec. 23, 2016. Fabian is holding a photo taken 15 years ago of himself, fellow alum Jay DiFrank and district television production teacher Rick Berrott.

Plum students, staff, alumni and media professionals plan to come together Thursday at the high school for the annual Make-A-Wish Telethon.

This will be the 18th installment of the district's efforts to help make wishes come true for others.

The telethon is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. at 900 Elicker Road.

It's filmed and produced by high school t students under the direction of teacher and National Honor Society co-sponsor Rick Berrott.

“We will run live for close to seven hours, which will be a record for us,” Berrott said.

A recorded broadcast will air that day on community access stations Comcast 23 and Verizon channel 30.

It is the culmination of several fundraisers for Pittsburgh's Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter serving West Virginia and all but 10 counties in Pennsylvania.

“We love working with them every year and seeing how into it and how dedicated the students are for raising money,” said Samara Silverstein of Make-A-Wish.

The school district is at the top of the chapter's fundraising leader board.

“We never set a financial goal,” Berrott said. “As long as we can raise money for a great cause and put on a great show, that's always the goal. It gives students great experience from a video production standpoint to be able to work in high pressure situations. It's a win-win for everyone involved.”

Guests this year include Pittsburgh Steelers team reporter Missi Matthews, former FOX Sports social media director Patrick Muldowney, KDKA anchor Rick Dayton, WPXI meteorologist Scott Harbaugh, WTAE anchor Mike Clark, legendary local sports broadcaster Bill Hillgrove and Steven Fabian, a 2002 graduate and correspondent on the television program “Inside Edition.”

“It's just amazing how planned out it is,” Silverstein said. “They have every single detail planned down to the minute. It's a well-functioning machine. It's very interesting and high energy.”

The district raised a little more than $39,000 last year, granting nine wishes. Wishes included shopping sprees, trips to Disney World, Hawaii and Lego Land.

Make-A-Wish recipients are between the ages of 2 12 and 18 years old and diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.

Plum's telethon started in 1999 as a suggestion by Berrott's wife, Jen, a second grade teacher at Pivik Elementary.

Each school has separate fundraising events such as a read-a-thon, students versus staff volleyball games and car washes leading up to the big event. Donations to date are approximately $834,000.

“I'm totally flabbergasted,” Berrott said. “It's very humbling. We're going to be pushing $1 million in another three or four years. That's insane.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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