College TV for a cause: Rowan student-produced telethon to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey



 It started out as an annual production for a great cause. But, for Rowan University students, the Rowan Television Network’s (RTN) Telethon has since become much more. It’s become a labor of love.

“We can’t stay away. We love being there and interacting with the children and their families. We want to be as involved as we can,” said telethon co-producer Joseph Ponisi, a junior radio/television/film (RTF) major from Holmdel.

On Wednesday, April 9, “RTN’s 7th Annual Telethon” will air from 7 p.m.-midnight on Rowan University’s Channel 5. Additionally, it will stream live worldwide at

The Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey (RMH-SNJ) is a nonprofit organization that provides a home away from home for children and their families. The house attracts children and their families from around the country­—and sometimes from around the world—who are undergoing medical treatment at the nearby Cooper University Hospital in Camden.

Produced exclusively by Rowan students and featuring the talents of over 50 RTN members, the five-hour broadcast from the studios of Bozorth Hall will feature interviews with families and staff members from the house, musical guests, videos concerning the organization, skits and even an appearance by Ronald McDonald himself.

To get a better sense of the organization’s impact, RTN students have been actively volunteering at the RMH-SNJ for the past five months. RTN is looking to raise $6,500 for the house and the students have seen firsthand how the organization benefits children and their families.

“Ronald McDonald House is a place where these families can really feel like they’re at home,” said telethon co-producer Deanna Lugo, a senior RTF major with a Spanish minor from Ocean City. “Sometimes I walk into this place and feel at home.”

RTN students have volunteered to do a few crafts with the kids and always show up with equipment to do on-camera interviews.

“The kids love being on camera. They’ve become our friends,” said Ponisi. “They’re really the happiest kids in the world.”

The students’ continuing involvement has caught the attention of more than just the kids.

Lesley Wolfe of Syracuse, NY, the mother of a child being treated at Cooper, recently reached out to the RTN student volunteers to thank them for their support.

“It’s people like you who take the pain away from the kids and replace it with a very positive, very fun experience,” she posted on RTN Telethon’s official Facebook page.

RTN Telethon also has an official Instagram and Twitter. Students and viewers will live tweet during the broadcast using the hash tags #RTNTeleton and #RowanProud.

The telethon will be hosted by Amber Mathes, a junior RTF and journalism dual major from Hammonton, and Tyler Mulvey, a senior public relations major from Hawthorne.

Interviews will be conducted by: Ashley Force of Frederick, MD, a broadcast journalism major with a minor in advertising; Andrew Schobert, a senior RTF major from Burlington; Aris Theofanopoulos, a senior RTF major from Egg Harbor City; Isaiah Showell, a senior journalism major from Pleasantville; Nina Contento, a sophomore RTF major from Estelle Manor; Samantha Barrett, a sophomore RTF and journalism dual major from Keyport; and Maria Brasco, a junior RTF major from Sewell.

Headlining musical guests will be: Nalani and Sarina Bolton of Flemington, a twin pop act; Sofia Khorosh (under the stage name Sofia Nicole) an acoustic pop artist from East Brunswick; and No Such Noise, a pop-punk group from Sicklerville.

Other musical guests include: Hodera, an indie-rock/alternative band; Bri LoBue, a country artist from Old Bridge; Our Fair City, an indie rock/alternative band from Philadelphia; and Mark Nestman, an indie acoustic artist from Rockaway.

The musical segments will be hosted by Bria O’Brien, a junior RTF major from Galloway, and Sofya Piro, a senior public relations major from Wildwood.

While donations will be accepted online, phone bank operators will be standing by to accept pledges during the broadcast at (856) 347-0786.

In the past, the annual RTN Telethon has raised more than $15,000 combined for organizations like Alex’s Lemonade Stand, the Make-A-Wish-Foundation and the Waves for Water Restore the Shore Project.

About the Ronald McDonald House of SNJ

Located in Camden, Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey provides a home-away-from home for seriously ill children and their families. In addition to its residential facility in Camden, Ronald McDonald House operates Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, specially designed waiting areas in pediatric units of nine South Jersey hospitals, to assist families whose children are being treated in those facilities.


RTN Makes a Difference

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, RTN will broadcast the “Philippine Benefit Special: Typhoon Haiyan Relief” from 7-8:30 p.m. The benefit will air on Rowan’s Channel 5, as well as stream live around the world at

Completely student led, the benefit special will be a live production featuring interviews, musical acts and video footage, much of it provided by CBS-3, concerning the disaster. Students hope to raise money and awareness for the typhoon. The projected goal is $1,000.

All proceeds from the benefit will go to Waves for Water’s relief project at

Students and viewers will also be able to live tweet during the event using the hash tags #RTNHaiyanRelief and #RowanProud.

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Rowan Television Network Telethon: Overcoming Hurricane Sandy

By guest author Priyal Dubal

Rowan University’s own college television network strives to make a difference. For the sixth year in a row, the Rowan Television Network will host a telethon on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, raising donation money in a five-hour live broadcast for a charity chosen by the club. The funding goal rises each year, with this year’s goal at $7,500 towards Restore The Shore Projects and Waves for Water New Jersey Sandy Relief Initiative. The club is honored to do their part in helping the victims from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Tune in to see live bands, comedy acts, and special guest interviews on set and at locations that were affected by the storm, such as Atlantic City, Wildwood, Ocean City, and more.

The Rowan Television Network is a student run organization that programs Channel 5 on the Rowan University campus and a simulcast web stream 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, where the telethon event will be hosted live from 7pm to midnight. The club is open to all majors, consisting of active members who take their personal time to learn more about television production while helping the Rowan University community with video production services.  RTN covers live campus events, including athletic competitions, homecoming festivities, theatrical and variety show performances, and guest speakers.

With over 60 crew members, many that were affected by the storm, and several months of preparation, executive producers Chelsea Dobrucki and Vin D’Anton worked hard to help out for a cause that hits close to home. While personally speaking with the founders of Restore The Shore Projects, Waves for Water, and Ergo Clothing, they were able to reach out to various people who were willing to contribute their stories, photos, and videos about their impact from Hurricane Sandy. Also in contribution will be official promotional shirts and posters created by Rowan University student and Ergo designer Derek Koch, and a variety of talent and acts performing to help out the cause.

The Rowan Television Network hopes to see success in their efforts not only due to their undertaking to achieve this goal, but in hopes to create a community of people coming together for the meaningful message of helping out your neighbors. Stay connected by visiting