Radiothon raises $60,000 for Iowa veterans

Radiothon raises $60,000 for Iowa veterans

On Veterans Day, a "Vets of Valor" radiothon conducted by Des Moines, Iowa, radio station KIOA raised $60,000 in 12 hours for The American Legion Department of Iowa's veteran assistance programs. It was the second year in a row the department and KIOA partnered to support veterans in need; last year, the radiothon raised nearly $20,000 for the Legion's Temporary Financial Assistance program.

"This year's radiothon was a solid demonstration that the veterans in Iowa intend to take care of each other, and the citizens of Iowa have a strong bond with their veterans and have an appreciation for military service," said Department of Iowa Adjutant John Derner. "This is one way they showed their appreciation."

The radiothon was once again held in the lobby of Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel, a partner in the drive along with First Class Credit Union. The phones were manned by First Class employees, KIOA on-air personalities conducted challenges with listeners and advertisers, and department Legionnaires and service officers answered questions from veterans and their families.

Within the first five minutes of the radiothon, $500 in donations were collected. Donations poured in from people who wanted to honor a loved family veteran, and Legion posts conducted challenges with each other. For example, Post 663 in Urbandale challenged other posts to meet their $100 donation.

"I told everyone who donated that The American Legion of Iowa will be very good stewards of their money and this is going to go a long way to help Iowa veterans," said Kathy Nees, program director for the Department of Iowa. "It was a very good day."

Pre-recorded testimonials were also aired during the radiothon from veterans and their families who have benefited from Legion assistance. And dignitaries such as Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Terry Branstad provided on-air Legion testimonials. Branstad, a 45-year Legion member, shared how he became a post commander following his military service, and the importance the Legion has in America's communities.

Derner said Nees has done a "tremendous job" working with Iowa radio stations over the years on veterans issues and needs, and it's because of her dedication that KIOA approached the department about the radiothon.

"You can't buy this kind of marketing. It's the relationship that we built over the years that allowed this (radiothon) to happen," he said. "(The Department of Iowa) cannot thank enough KIOA, First Class Credit Union, Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino Hotel, the other sponsors throughout the day, and more than anything else the generosity of KIOA listeners who supported our programs. We thank all of our veterans who listened in that day and found out about our organization and learned about the services we can provide to their families and fellow veterans."