Keeping in Touch Fall 2013

An update from MDA's CEO

by Steven M. Derks on October 3, 2013 - 8:58am

Quest Vol. 20, No. 4
Steven M. Derks

As I travel and have the privilege of visiting families, our researchers and clinic leaders, children and volunteers at summer camps and our sponsors, I often hear fond memories of watching MDA’s Labor Day weekend telethon.

Today, MDA is a vibrant organization building upon past successes as we race toward new breakthroughs. We would not be at this juncture without the template of hope and progress put in place by leaders from MDA’s past. Decades of generous support to fund our research program, to unlock new discoveries, to build an unparalleled clinical infrastructure that today assists tens of thousands of families annually is paying great dividends, and helping people live stronger and longer lives.

We are enormously grateful for the sturdy shoulders on which we stand, none stronger than former MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis, who hosted the first MDA Labor Day telethon in 1966. The telethon became an iconic American tradition, a shared “staying-up-late-and-pulling-together-as-community” experience which now continues in robust new form as our MDA Show of Strength Telethon. Elements of the show have necessarily changed, but the core mission remains unaltered — educate and engage the American public. Thank you for your role in ensuring that we continue to bring more people to this fight.

Read MDA Show of Strength Telethon for a recap of our 2013 telethon, which aired in September on ABC stations nationwide. The show achieved the highest ratings we’ve seen in many years — an 80 percent viewership increase in major markets — and resulted in a fundraising total of $59.6 million from individual contributors and our phenomenal family of sponsors that was acknowledged on the show. 

MDA’s long-term, strategic investments in discovery are reflected in a number of stories in this issue, several of which focus on progress in limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.

Throughout 2013, MDA has been at the forefront of efforts to reauthorize the MD CARE Act, which has played a critical role in advancing research and extending lives. For updates on this important advocacy initiative, as well as information regarding how you can get involved, read MD CARE Act 2013: Building on Success.

In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month in November, we offer a touching remembrance by a woman who learned profound lessons of love and compassion while caring for two family members with myotonic dystrophy. And, don’t miss the ode to caregivers by a man with ALS.

Our deepest thanks to all who have supported our telethon or otherwise helped MDA through gifts or volunteer action. We remain proud of MDA’s heritage while advancing boldly toward a better future for the children and adults we serve.

Warm regards,
Steven M. Derks
MDA President and CEO

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