With help from the generous American public, MDA sponsors, and a diverse roster of musical performers and celebrity presenters, the 48th annual MDA Show of Strength Telethon raised $59,583,555 to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The two-hour telethon aired primetime Sunday, on ABC television stations nationwide. The tally represents giving to MDA that occurred during the show and through midnight Sept. 2, plus contributions raised by the national sponsors that appeared on the show. Last year’s total was $58,706,015.
Viewers responded generously to MDA’s call for donations via the onscreen phone number, texting, and online contributions. For the first time ever, MDA reported telethon donations through a new online tote board on its website, mda.org, that was regularly updated as the telethon aired from coast to coast.
“We are deeply grateful to the American public and our family of sponsors,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “The response to our families’ compelling and inspirational stories and our request to keep the momentum going is humbling. These dollars enable MDA clinic physicians and our staff across America to assist families fighting muscle disease, to fund the best science that can lead to new treatments, and to rally communities to continue to fight back against muscle disease as we set our sights on muscle health.”
The 2013 telethon featured a star-studded celebrity lineup, including: Ryan Seacrest; Backstreet Boys; country stars Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack; Enrique Iglesias; teenage pop sensation Austin Mahone; “Glee” star Matthew Morrison; Paula Abdul; hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez; “American Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez; Kenny Loggins with the Blue Sky Riders; American blues rock band Vintage Trouble; and Universal recording artist and star from “The Voice” Chris Mann.
Substantial support was provided to the telethon by MDA’s family of national and regional partners, including International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), CITGO Petroleum Corp., The Safeway Foundation, Lowe’s, Harley-Davidson, Jiffy Lube, National Association of Letter Carriers, 7-Eleven, 7UP, Acosta Sales & Marketing, Burger King and Tall Cedars.
IAFF, which has been raising funds for MDA since 1954 through community events such as the street-side “Fill the Boot” campaign, amassed a fundraising total of $26.1 million for this year’s telethon.
For 48 years, 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).
While the telethon has consistently enjoyed robust support from some of the biggest celebrities in show business, MDA says the real stars on the telethon are the individuals and families served by MDA.
MDA’s first Labor Day weekend telethon was broadcast in 1966 on a single New York station and has become the most successful fundraising event in the history of television. The show, with Jerry Lewis as its iconic host through 2010, and 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.
MDA called Jerry Lewis its greatest “muscle maker,” a reference to the make-a-muscle gesture that was portrayed throughout the show and on MDA’s website via photos that were submitted.
“We know the best way to honor Jerry Lewis and all of the generations of past supporters on whose shoulders we stand is to work harder and race faster to find new treatments and cures for our families.”
Visitors to mda.org/muscle can learn more about the 2013 MDA telethon and see the celebrity performances.