Variety Telethon

Watch the Telethon Spotlight Special here. 


In 1975, four businessmen came up with a plan to raise dollars to help Iowa's children. Stanley J. Reynolds, Steve Blank, Ray Johnson, and Mike Reilly created a locally produced Telethon to rally support around children’s needs in the community. The first annual Telethon aired that year and raised $151,000 to provide medical equipment to a local hospital.


The Telethon is the foundation Variety - the Children's Charity of Iowa was built upon and is the highlight of each year. For 46 years, the Variety Telethon hosted a line-up of local and international celebrities who appeared on-air, along with thousands of corporate volunteers and donors who pledged their ongoing time and support to Iowa’s children.

Telethon Founders


Since then, the Variety Telethon has evolved into a shorter, televised multi-million-dollar fundraiser that still highlights the many ways Variety helps Iowa’s children. Variety VIPs (Very Interested Persons) and corporate supporters continue to raise funds that will support Variety's five programs:

  • Grant Program – Variety awards funding to children’s nonprofits annually. In 2023, Variety granted over $2 million to 77 nonprofits.
  • Mobility – In 2023 Variety provided over 100 custom pieces of mobility equipment to children with special needs and awarded over 500 traditional bikes to underprivileged children.
  • Variety Vans – Over the last 40 years, more than 400 Variety Vans have been granted to children’s nonprofits in Iowa.
  • Variety Star Playgrounds – To date, Variety has built three inclusive playgrounds and supported many others, so children of all abilities can experience the joy of a playground.
  • The Compassion Fund – Countless children and families experiencing long hospital stays have received financial assistance from the Variety Compassion Fund


Donate Today
50th Telethon

For 50 years, Iowans have joined together to contribute their time, talent, and hearts to the Variety Telethon and have collectively raised over $140 million to impact Iowa’s children.


Help us honor our four founders and celebrate 50 years of miracles by donating to the Variety Telethon!