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2008 West Virginia Hot Dog Festival Benefits Children

hot-dog-festival-2008.jpgFor a young cancer patient, any distraction from their treatment and illness is a welcome change. It could come from a video game, a movie or a stuffed animal. For the family of a young cancer patient, help can come in many ways too - a prescription, travel expenses or a celebration that signals the end of cancer treatments. Young lives affected by cancer are also impacted by an annual donation from organizers of the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival. This year, John F. Mandt, Jr., president of Stewart's Original Hot Dogs and Kym York-Blake, WV Hot Dog Festival event coordinator, presented a check for $18,500 to the Gift of Life fund set up to help patients and their families receiving care in the Pediatric Oncology Program at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center on the campus of Cabell Huntington Hospital.

Several years ago, Mandt, Judy Jennings, Market Manager of Clear Channel Radio Group-Huntington, WV/Ashland, KY and York-Blake co-founded the West Virginia Hot Dog Festival with a goal of helping children with cancer. They have exceeded that goal by creating an event that grows every year and brings the community together for a worthwhile cause. With the 2008 donation, the event is nearing a total of $60,000 in donations to Gift of Life, a fund that helps underwrite the purchase of medications for those without insurance and to meet many of the other financial needs that pediatric oncology patients have.

"Our staff and families greatly appreciate the work that everyone does for our patients," said Melissa Constantino, RN, CPON, a pediatric oncology nurse at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. "They work all year on the hot dog festival and it has grown into an exciting event that we all look forward to. I think it is great for our community to know that their efforts and generosity are benefiting patients here in their own back yard."

Many businesses come together each year to support this unique event that offers attractions for children and adults. Local radio stations WKEE, WTCR AM & FM, Classic Hits B97.1, X106.3, NewsTalk 800 WVHU and Kiss 107.1 co-promote the annual fundraiser and staff the event with volunteers. Corporate and event sponsors for 2008 were Stewarts Original Hot Dogs; Cavalier Meats; Heiner's Bakery; Pepsi of Huntington; Sitel; Saturn of Charleston-Huntington; Empire Metal Recycling; Funny Bone Comedy Club; Quality Care Nursing; City National Bank; OU-Proctorville Center; Frostop Drive-In; Community Trust Bank; Club Pet; Huntington Mall; SW Community Action Council-Mature Worker's Program; M&M Inflatables; Penn Station; CASA; Marshall University Recreation Sports; Almost Home Dachshund Rescue; Pullman Square and MCTC Cooking & Culinary School.