It's one of the nation's longest-running, locally produced telethons and last year it raised $1-million.  The 56th annual Variety Kids Telethon is scheduled for Sunday, March 4th and for the 55th straight year it'll be broadcast live on WKBW-TV, Channel 7.

The first telethon was broadcast in 1962 with the intent of dedicating all the money it raised to building a rehabilitation center for children with special needs.  The $80-thousand that first telethon raised was able to begin the process of creating what is now the Dr. Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center for Children with Special Needs at the Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

Today, in addition to the Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center, proceeds from the telethon help support dozens of local children's non-profits.

This year's telethon is dedicated to the memory of former Eyewitness News anchor Irv Weinstein who hosted the telethon for years.  And even after he retired he remained active with Variety and returned to Western New York in 2012 to appear on the 50th annual telethon.

Variety hosted its annual kickoff luncheon at Chef's restaurant where this year's Celebrity Child was introduced along with his family.  Jackson Buyea of Lancaster was born after just 24 weeks and was given a slim chance for survival, but thanks to the care he received at the Robert Warner Rehabilitation Center he overcame the odds.

Among those appearing on the Variety Telethon will be The Scinta's, Terry Buchwald. Howard Rosenthal from Mr. Food Test Kitchen and a special video message from the Goo Goo Dolls.

This year's telethon will be broadcast live from the Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center, Sunday, March 4th from  7am to 6pm.

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