And so we come to the end of a nine-week road. But it hasn't been the twisting, winding variety. A freeway is more like it: straight, fast and direct. It has led to a bottom line few would have dreamed possible-- me included -- back in November.

The following are not the final-final totals for this year's Children's Hospital campaign. Because of production schedules, we must close this column on Thursday afternoon. So the figures below reflect only those donations received by Thursday morning.

All donations received by close of business Saturday will count in the 1981-82 total, however. Once those are totaled early next week, I'll announce the absolute-official-final total.

Still, these preliminary final figures are worth a shout or two:

Grand total: $314,525.60.

Total given this week: $38,050.33.

Donations from individuals: 5,888.

Donations from groups: 591.

Even without last-second contributions, those figures represent a 35 percent increase over 1979-80, the previous record year.

A lot of people have asked us why we've done so well this year. Many say it must be the result of inheriting so many former Washington Star readers, who have become contributors for the first time. Others say the changes in the tax laws made charitable giving in 1981 a last-gasp good idea. Still others say the difference has been me (One reader/donor sent a note that reads: "Dear Bob, You missed your vocation. You should have been a salesman.").

It may be any of those reasons. It may be none. But I think there's another reason.

You.

Nobody, not even a salesman who missed his vocation, can reach inside your pockets and make you give. The impetus and desire must be yours. And what you've done for Children's Hospital this year is strong evidence that your impetus and desire are doing just dandy.

The dollars you've donated prove that our community gives a damn. What's more, we have proven ourselves a community that wants to ensure top-flight medical care for all our children.

Your dollars have helped achieve that. From my associate Rob Graettinger and me, a tip of the cap. You've made it the record year we all wanted.