PITTSFIELD -- The dean of Berkshire state lawmakers has been named the honorary chairman of the 51st annual United Cerebral Palsy Association of Berkshire County Telethon.

The UCP board of directors has chosen state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli of Lenox to lead the fundraiser from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Crowne Plaza. The four-hour event, featuring live entertainment, will be televised live from the hotel's ballroom via Pittsfield Community Television on all Time Warner Cable public access stations in Berkshire County.

Currently the longest serving local legislator at 11 years, Pignatelli said he is honored to be associated with an organization that benefits children and adults of all disabilities.

"For example, they do a lot in early education and intervention for those with autism," he noted. "UCP represents the best we have to offer."

The theme for this year's telethon is "Kids Are the Bridge to the Future." Its fundraising goal is $35,000, a figure that has held steady the past several years, according to UCP Executive Director Christine Singer.

While the local telethon fell short of its goal last year, receiving $31,206 in donations, the nonprofit agency is grateful to those who do contribute.

"We're always amazed with the consistency of our donors for coming through," said Singer.

UCP officials say proceeds from the telethon will offset the funding needed for the Pittsfield-based organization's programs of assistive technology, children's programming and basic needs, and emergency support to individuals and families throughout the Berkshires.

For more information about the telethon, to donate raffle or silent auction items, or to make a pledge, contact Joni at (413) 442-1562, ext. 21, or jthomas@ucpberkshire.org.

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

If you go (or watch)

What: Annual telethon for United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26

Where: Crowne Plaza in downtown Pittsfield

On TV: Broadcast live, via Pittsfield Community Television, on all three Berkshire County public access stations on the Time Warner Cable system.