TOMS RIVER – Four days outside on a sky-high scaffold might not seem like the ideal place to be but for a popular radio personality, it was the least he could do to help children with cancer.
This marked the 23rd Billboard Radiothon for the non-profit organization Ocean of Love. It reached its goal of $109,000 at the conclusion of the event which ran from September 20-23.
Executive Director Theresa Segul said the money will provide “financial and emotional support so that children with cancer can experience ‘normal’ joys of childhood, knowing their lives are significant and meaningful to each and every one of us.”
Previously, the benefit was hosted by Townsquare Media and featured radio personality Andy Chase. While Chase is no longer with that group, he said he was excited about the continuation of this event and that Beasley Media Group’s WRAT 95.9 FM became the new event sponsor.
While Chase was still highly involved with the effort, it was WRAT radio personality Gotts who spent many hours on the top of the 30-foot billboard based at the Lowes/Target parking lot at 1331 Hooper Avenue. Several community organizations such as the Ocean County 4-H Club came out to showcase what they do in the perimeter near the tower during the event. Even Santa Claus stopped by for an early visit to Ocean County to add to the fun.
Gotts worked from that location updating the public and asking for donations to reach its goal. The annual event has raised more than $2 million since it began in 1998.
Chase said Gotts was the perfect person to take on the mantle of the Billboard dweller up high saying, “he’s crazy but the most important thing is that he has a heart of gold.”
WRAT Program Director and Operations Manager Carl Craft said the station’s coming aboard to support Ocean of Love was an easy yes. “It wasn’t an ‘if’ it was a ‘when and how.’
“Being part of this incredible event is truly a special moment for us. I’m part of the unfortunate people who have been directly affected by cancer,” Craft added.
Gotts told Jersey Shore Online.com during a break on his third day on the scaffold that “the hours up here don’t even matter. I’m counting the money. I’m counting donations. This is my first year doing this and kudos to Andy Chase. If it wasn’t for him, I’d be lost right now as far as to where we were last year and what he accomplished by the time I got here.”
“As long as we reach the $109,000 goal, I’m a happy guy. I’ll sit up there (another) 109 hours if I have to,” Gotts said.
When asked how well he can sleep up in the tower during the evening with the occasional car passing by, he said, “if you think an alarm clock is annoying you should hear the trucks going by at like 3 a.m. They are screaming.”
Gotts added, “Andy Chase has a great saying if you beep don’t be cheap. Andy and I go back and forth with the slogans. Mine is ‘what’s the best station…donation!’”
He noted the “sad side to this is that cancer is still with us. We hear the stories about how it effects the kids and they are the ones who are the real heroes who go through the battle like cancer. It really affects the families and how they get back and forth to the doctors and Sloan Kettering.”
He commended Ocean of Love “for keeping these kids happy. Theresa (Segul) is heaven. We didn’t know where to start but they know how to keep the kids staying positive knowing they have this horrible disease. She does it. She’s a saint and so is Andy Chase. Everyone who works as part of Ocean of Love are great and this is how the whole community comes together.”
“People are meeting new friends now, talking with each other and we are getting these donations for families here in Ocean County. It stays right here. It is all for a great cause. The kids are dealing with cancer so the least I can do is deal with the rain and weather and not sleeping.”