PITTSFIELD -- Harriet Grand champ wasn't shy about showing off her break-dancing moves on live television Sunday afternoon.

The 26-year-old North Adams woman performed with the seven-member UCP Dancers during the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Berkshire County's 50th annual telethon broadcast from the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Grandchamp wasn't nervous about her performance, saying it was for a good cause.

"I'm perfectly fine when I get up there," she said.

The UCP Dancers, comprised of young adults with various disabilities, did themselves proud, according to Robin Grandchamp, Harriet's mother.

"It was great to see all of them perform and have confidence as a group," she said.

The four-hour telecast hosted by area celebrities and featuring top local talent originated with Pittsfield Community Television and linked to community television channels in North and South County over the Time Warner Cable television system.

Viewers were continuously encouraged to phone in pledges for UCP's biggest fundraiser of the year while other individuals, business and civic organizations made on-air contributions. In addition, a raffle and silent auction were held to raise money for the telethon. After expenses, 100 percent of the money raised locally stays in Berkshire County to support UCP programs and services offered through the agency's Pittsfield and North Adams offices.


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While the $32,250 raised fell short of the $35,000 goal, UCP's executive director Christine Singer still hailed the event a success, given the tough economic times.

"Our business partners really came through," he said. ‘We're still positive about the outcome."

Singer noted donations are accepted year round by mail or online at www.ucpberkshire.org.

A dance group performs while volunteers take phone donations during the 50th annual United Cerebal Palsy Telethon on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza hotel in
A dance group performs while volunteers take phone donations during the 50th annual United Cerebal Palsy Telethon on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Pittsfield. (Kayla Galway / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

Aside from fundraising, the UCP telethon allows the agency to espouse how they serve nearly 1,900 families of individuals with a variety of disabilities, according to veteran telethon volunteer, Maren Jacobs of Lenox.

"The heart of the telethon is the [information], but we have a long way to go to tell more people how we can help them," said the mother of 43-year-old Lisa Jacobs, who has cerebral palsy.

"The [telethon] clearly demonstrates what the agency can do for people with disabilities," added Dan Dillon. "For example, UCP has one of the best labs to teach people how to use the computer."

A former telethon chairman for more than a decade, Dillon spoke prior to the fundraiser he was unable to attend.

Meanwhile UCP volunteer Ed Skoletsky of Pittsfield has worked all 50 telethons and says he has no intention of retiring.

"I know it's necessary [for UCP]," Skoletsky noted. "I also enjoy watching all the people come in and say, ‘Hello.'"

One-time UCP board of directors chairwoman, Betty Papirio, says the upbeat attitude of telethon participants keeps her coming back to help out after more than 40 years as a UCP volunteer.

"It's about the enthusiasm and caring of people ... willing to give to each other," Papirio said.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.