At MDA we often say that when one Labor Day Telethon is over, it’s time to begin preparations for the next one. That’s certainly been the case for our 43rd Telethon, now only a few short days away.
The Telethon is an American tradition — an unbeatable combination of entertainment, information about research and first-person accounts by individuals and families sharing what it’s like to live with a progressive muscle disease.
To tell those stories and put on a show of this magnitude requires the integrated efforts of hundreds of thousands of people. Every year at this time, I’m struck by the dedication and generosity of the virtual army of volunteers who make the Telethon possible.
First of all, we owe thanks to the general managers of the 180 television stations in MDA’s nationwide “Love Network,” cable stations in Canada and RealNetworks for streaming video of the 21½-hour show on the Internet. Thanks to them, last year’s Telethon was viewed by some 40 million people in the United States, achieving a rating equivalent of the Golden Globes, Emmys and Academy Awards.
The Telethon itself is made up of hundreds of tireless Love Network emcees and performers who contribute their talents in song, dance, comedy and more. Holding it together are our delightful celebrity co-hosts — Tom Bergeron, Jann Carl, Norm Crosby, Billy Gilman, Nancy O’Dell, Alison Sweeney and Ace Young — and the anchor, Ed McMahon.
We’re most grateful to Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, for hosting the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon for the third consecutive year.
Thanks, too, to our national sponsors (some of whom have partnered with MDA for decades) whose representatives graciously present checks on the Telethon representing their year-long fundraising efforts for MDA.
And of course, deep thanks go to the individuals who call in their pledges from around the world, sustaining MDA’s lifegiving programs by helping to swell the tote board total.
Certainly there’s one person without whom the Telethon would not exist. He’s been the star of the show for more than four decades, and our love for him is exceeded only by his love for “his kids.” Jerry Lewis is the Telethon personified, and there’s no way to adequately thank him for all he’s done to advance the quest for cures and treatments for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
During the rest of the year, MDA-supported scientific research forges ahead; local MDA offices and clinics provide invaluable services; publications keep the MDA family up to date; and the Association’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill help bring about important legislative changes for those we serve.
Our vital programs of research, services and education rely upon the Labor Day Telethon. We’re fortunate indeed that the Telethon in turn can rely upon dedicated volunteers helping at Telethon pledge centers and special events in myriad ways.
Broadcasters, celebrity hosts, volunteers, sponsors, donors – and you! Together we’re making a difference for Jerry’s Kids.
Gerald C. Weinberg
President & CEO