St Jude Telethon wraps up with a record breaking total

By Alyssa Donovan

August 4, 2013 Updated Aug 5, 2013 at 10:19 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- This year's annual St. Jude Telethon has wrapped up with another record breaking year.

For the first time the challenge was met in the absence of Jim Maloof, the man responsible for starting the telethon.

Maloof passed away earlier this year, but he remains in the hearts and minds of St. Jude volunteers.

Families, supporters, runners and patients of St. Jude filled the Peoria Civic Center on Saturday night for the 36th Annual St Jude Telethon.

It was another record breaking year with a grand total of $7,589,756 raised.

St Jude board member John Kocher and his wife Dawn, co-chaired the telethon for the first time this year.

"St. Jude is always out there you always hear about St Jude but it's not as passionate as it is here in Central Illinois and I think that's Jim Maloof and his power coming through all of us," said Kocher.

The absence of Maloof from this year’s telethon was felt by everyone involved.

"It's hard to believe a man could have done so much good in a lifetime," said WEEK anchor and telethon host Tom McIntyre.

"He challenged not only us but everyone in this room I would think, to do better, to help raise money for sick kids," said St. Jude Runs Co-founder Mike McCoy.

"He was definitely missed but he was definitely the reason everyone was there and that we're able to do what we do because of what he started and because of what we're able to do through him," said Dawn Kocher.

The money raised by this year's telethon beat 2012's total by more than $500,000.

Dawn said each year they hope to raise more money for the kids of St. Jude.

"So that one day we don't have to do the telethon and Jim's dream will be realized."