Forty-five years ago, a great man named Bob Ross, MDA’s then-executive director, dreamed that the power of television could be harnessed in behalf of families devastated by neuromuscular diseases — diseases about which modern medicine had no understanding, let alone defense.
Ross realized that having the American public on our side in this fight would guarantee our ultimate success — and that there’s no better way to enlist Americans than to entertain them, to make them laugh and to introduce them to the people living with these muscle-damaging diseases.
Now that all the music and laughter and tears of the Telethon have subsided, I hope that the result for you is all the exultation and pride that I feel. Working together across the country — volunteers, “Love Network” stations, entertainers, sponsors and individuals affected by neuromuscular diseases — we’ve accomplished something truly remarkable, something many would have called impossible in the current economy. Once again, hard work, dedication and faith have worked a miracle in the face of extreme adversity.
Although the Telethon missed by some $1.5 million Jerry Lewis’ traditional goal of raising “a dollar more than last year,” it kept its promise to those MDA serves to continue the programs of service and research that help sustain lives and provide precious hope. If we can put the same strength into our efforts in the balance of the year, we’ll more than make up for that dollar.
As we head toward the holiday season, it’s natural to begin to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for. My list starts with the American public, whose generosity and concern about muscular dystrophy is truly humbling. I’m also deeply grateful to, and awed by, the brilliant scientists who volunteer their expertise on MDA’s medical and scientific advisory committees, and the hundreds of researchers dedicated to eradicating neuromuscular diseases. It’s a long, long road to treatments and cures but, step by step, we’re advancing, as you’ll see in reports about gene repair, personalized medicine and clinical research.
I’m most touched by our MDA families, who show me what loving and caring are all about. November is National Caregivers Month, which gives MDA a special opportunity to recognize and honor our family caregivers. Be sure to see Annie Kennedy’s Advocacy column describing MDA resources available to caregivers, and previewing special features that will be available on our website in November.
I wish I could thank each of you personally for all you do. On behalf of everyone at MDA, may you have a safe, peaceful holiday season and a healthy, joyful New Year!
Gerald C. Weinberg
President & CEO