At the three-quarter mark of the journey, our annual fund-raising campaign on behalf of Children's Hospital is beginning to remind me of the horses I back.

They get off to excellent starts. Then they fade in the stretch.

That, unfortunately, is the nutshell summary of the 1982-83 Children's campaign. Until last week, we were cooking along at about 110 percent of last year's record pace. This week, however, brought greatly reduced donations--and a bottom line that leaves us only a little more than $7,000 ahead of where we were at the same time last year.

The message is what it has always been: the kids need your help, and they need it now. Unlike my horses, last year's campaign picked itself up with two weeks to go and sprinted for the finish. This year, we need to do the same. That can only happen if you give, and give generously.

The figures through six weeks:

Grand total to date: $218,773.94.

Total given this week: $37,729.88.

Individual donors to date: 3,586.

Group donors to date: 481.

To top last year's total, we need about $103,000 in the next 14 days. If you believe in an institution that serves our kids, regardless of race, creed or ability to pay, you'll help us get there.

To contribute to the campaign:

Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Donation of the week comes from Shelly Jo Nightingale of Landover Hills. She contributed $4.29, with this note:

"I'm 20 years old and I live on my own and have for the past year. All too often my generation forgets the smaller ones below us who need our help just to survive. Well, this is one person in my generation who hasn't forgotten the needs of the little ones . . . . This note is to thank you for reminding me, and hopefully others too, that the younger generation needs our help now!"

How about it, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles--any of you who have ever looked at a young member of your family and said to yourself, "This kid deserves the best." Children's Hospital is recognized as one of the best pediatric facilities in the country. Help it continue to help all of us.