Kids the real stars of Variety Show of Hearts Telethon 2009: Variety Show

Kids the real stars of Variety Show of Hearts Telethon

The best variety show you'll see all year airs this weekend from Burnaby.

The 43rd annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon begins today at 7 p.m. on Global B.C. and runs until 6 p.m. tomorrow. The 23-hour entertainment festival supports Variety -- The Children's Charity, which helps children with special needs all over B.C. Since the first telethon raised more than $60,000 in 1966, the event has gone on to generate more than $140 million for a wide range of programs and organizations, and for assistance to individual families and children. Among the performers to be featured in televised segments are Paul Simon, Josh Groban and Mark Knopfler, but the real stars of the weekend show will be children like eight-year-old Mackenzie Valgardson of Victoria, who has a genetic disease commonly known as EPP that greatly curtails her ability to be in sunlight. Mackenzie, twin brother Dawson and parents Shannon and Shawn are all heading to Burnaby for the telethon. Mackenzie is scheduled to be on television Sunday between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., again between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., and in the finale, as well. Shannon said Variety's help has been vital for Mackenzie and the family. "Mackenzie needed special windows put into our house, because she's allergic to the sunlight and all UV light," she said. "So Variety put in special windows with UV blocking, and she wears total UV-blocking clothes. Variety helps us pay for the clothes, too." Mackenzie is able to go out of the house for set intervals, her mother said, but during those periods she has to wear sunblock "on every inch of her body that isn't covered by the clothes."

Shannon said her daughter has become involved in activities to raise money for Variety, and for the past few years has joined in with the Variety coin drive started by Victoria's Jeneece Edroff.

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