The telethon exceeded my wildest expectations. I thought that if we were really lucky, really good, caught some major breaks -we might raise $400,000- tops.
Instead, the final tally on the electronic tote board was $1,055,719.
In reality, the total far exceeds the final number. The response was so overwhelming that our website could not keep up with the orders. When all is said and done, I am guessing that Move America Forward will have collected about $1.2 million. People are still donating because UStream.tv re-broadcast the stream, and radio stations across the country were broadcasting or re-broadcasting in various markets.
Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham personally donated $15,000 each, and Rush Limbaugh pledged a personal check, Mark Levin donated, Michelle Malkin and Coulter cash flowed into our account. Mark Williams from WROW in Albany, New York flew into California to be our ‘relief pitcher’ and his wife Holly ran the sound board and produced while we were on-the-air.
John Ondrasik from Five For Fighting was an articulate and passionate guest who was truly inspirational, as well as Jackie Mason. We did experience a few technical difficulties that prevented several guests from joining us, which was disappointing but not unexpected. Some of the best highlights came from Hughes Sullivan, a Salem talk show host in Detroit, Michigan (whom frankly I had never heard of before) live from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with senior military officials from the war college whose plain-spoken words about the troops, care packages, family struggles, and their mission grabbed eyeballs and heartstrings.
All of our guests were exceptional, but Michelle was the break-out star of the telethon, along with Debbie Lee, a Gold Star mother whose son Marc Alan Lee was the first Navy Seal killed in the fighting in Iraq. Debbie ran our tote board. Diana Nagy, a professional singer who has accompanied Move America Forward across the country with 4 national tours, also generated a lot of talk in the chatrooms!
Michelle is so poised, professional and truly engaged in troop support, with the technical vision to make this happen. UStream.tv co-founders Brad Hunstable and John Hamm never left the broadcast from the moment it began, babysitting us all the way through.
Of course, the real story is that hundreds of thousands of generous Americans participated in a New Media venture that has never before been done. They did it for one reason: love and support for the United States military, our troops and our heroes.
Over 5 million emails went out in advance of the telethon, and the chatrooms were filled with people conversing with each other and us.
I am totally blown away. I could not be personally more thrilled with Wednesday’s experience from the Silicon Valley.
Again, my thanks and heartfelt good wishes to everyone who contributed, chatted, donated, and supported our care package efforts for the troops!
From Michelle Malkin's email today:
As an active duty Navy Master Chief with 27 years so far in the service, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you and the entire staff of moveamericaforward for the event you held last night. It was truly inspirational to me. The political climate in our country the past few years, and the media's criminal bias had me convinced that I had certainly wasted my adult life hoping the country would get it. I have renewed hope that perhaps we will get it before our country is destroyed from within. Very well done. I know how it feels as a life long submariner what it's like to be separated from all contact with family and friends and know our troops will be overwhelmed by the generosity and gratitude you all have spurned. With moveon spending half a million to trash our military on TV ads, who really supports the troops.