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Channel 6 to air children's hospital telethon with twist

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WRTV-TV Channel 6 on Wednesday will broadcast its first-ever telethon benefiting Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, but with a twist from typical TV fundraisers.

Don’t look for hours of song-and-dance routines or heart-wrenching stories. The ABC affiliate plans to air its regularly scheduled programming, but is donating time during certain commercial breaks and its newscasts between 4:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Dedicated segments featuring inspiring stories at the hospital are to run during WRTV’s noon and 7 p.m. newscasts.

“It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this,” said Paul Montgomery, director of audience development at WRTV.

The E.W. Scripps-owned station received some inspiration from a sister station in Phoenix that conducts a similarly formatted telethon for another cause.

A number of encouraging stories about care provided at the hospital have been videotaped over the last three months, said Ashley Keebler, spokeswoman for Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent Hospital.

The hospital was opened in 2003 with support from former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, now the signal-caller for the Denver Broncos.

As for whether Manning will appear live in Indianapolis, that’s as top-secret as a third-down play in overtime. Keebler said Manning will appear in several pre-recorded segments, but she wouldn't reveal whether he'd cast a shadow in the studio.

If he’s not in town, he might appear live via Skype, said a WRTV insider. 

A phone bank has been set up at WRTV’s studios and will be staffed by volunteers and family members of children treated at the hospital.

Some of the segments appearing on the telethon will be available at TheIndyChannel.com/telethon, where donations also will be accepted.

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