The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual telethon has appeared on TV every Labor Day weekend since 1966. This will be the first year that the telethon will ever air across the U.S. on a single broadcast network, and that network is ABC.
Like other ABC stations nationwide, ABC 10 will air the two-hour MDA Show of Strength Telethon on Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern time, 8 p.m. Central. As in the past, the entertainment event will raise funds and awareness to support the MDA’s mission to help children and adults affected by progressive and often fatal muscle diseases.
“This is a remarkably hopeful time for MDA and our mission to find new treatments and cures as we set our sights on pursuing muscle health,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “We’re delighted to partner with ABC. Broadcasting our show nationwide and on prime-time TV provides a critically important way to tell our story of progress in fighting muscle disease, while recognizing and engaging new supporters.”
Previously, MDA partnered with an ad-hoc lineup of network affiliates in markets across the U.S. In recent years the majority of the stations have been ABC affiliates, which makes the new exclusive agreement with ABC a natural fit.
MDA is in the process of securing artists for this year’s telethon and all performers generously donate their time and talent to help make the event a success. The MDA telethon also will feature compelling stories of survival and hope profiling children and adults affected by muscle disease.
In addition to funds contributed by the public, substantial support also comes from MDA’s family of national sponsors, whose work throughout the year on behalf of MDA will be recognized on the telethon. Among the sponsors: International Association of Fire Fighters, CITGO Petroleum Corp., Safeway, Lowe’s, Harley-Davidson, Jiffy Lube International, National Association of Letter Carriers, 7-Eleven, Dr Pepper Snapple Group/7UP, Acosta and Burger King.
Over the decades, funds raised by MDA telethons also have contributed to the organization’s worldwide research program. Today, through current clinical trials, there is growing excitement that new lifesaving treatments and discoveries are on the horizon for many of the disorders MDA is dedicated to defeating, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Individuals with neuromuscular diseases are living longer, stronger lives thanks to the advances we’ve made over the years — particularly in the last decade — thanks in large part to past MDA supporters,” said MDA Chairman of the Board R. Rodney Howell, M.D. “We’re redoubling our efforts to find and fund new discoveries that will save lives.”
MDA’s telethon has become the most successful fundraising event in the history of television. The show, with help from a legion of top celebrities and entertainers, has raised millions each year to provide life-enhancing support and services for the families MDA serves.
The telethon has consistently enjoyed robust support from thousands of the biggest stars in show business. However, the real stars on the broadcast have always been the MDA families who have graciously agreed to open their homes and hearts to America and tell their stories of strength.