Volunteers get Civic Center ready for St. Jude Telethon

By WEEK Producer

July 20, 2012 Updated Jul 20, 2012 at 9:56 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- They are the unsung heroes of the St. Jude Telethon. Working quietly behind the scenes, making preparations for Saturday's show.

"Its quiet now and we're going to fill this place with thousands of volunteers and fundraisers and donors. Its something to see," said Julie Witte, the regional director for St. Jude.

About 30 volunteers began working at 8:30 Friday morning. They spent the day unpacking items for the St. Jude store, unloading food and drinks, getting tables ready in the runners reception area, even decorating the stage.

"Everybody has their area, everybody has their job," said St. Jude Telethon co-chair Rick Semonis. "When everybody leaves tonight, by 5 o'clock everything will be set up and functional and working, including the phones."

Next to the hall with the main stage is the room where the St. Jude runners and their families will eat when they arrive. There are 215 tables set up there and over 2,000 chairs.

Mollie Kelley is a three-time St. Jude runner. This year she's running around helping get things ready in the hall at the Civic Center. But her thoughts are with her friends out on the road.

"I know its so hot, I know what they're going through. I wish them luck and to stay safe because it is so hot out," Kelley said.

"In the center (of the room) we'll be setting up for reception for people to come and view the telethon live," said Sherry Semonis, St. Jude Telethon co-chair. "We've had people bringing in plants to decorate the stage from Sheridan Nursery and a few other areas. We're setting up the office. We're setting up a VIP area where our VIP's can check in and get ready to go on stage live to raise funds for the kids."

And when the lights go on the volunteers will see all the hard work pay off.