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What was the MDA Telethon?

Updated on April 8, 2016
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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.

MDA Telethon Logo as Used on WNEP

MDA Labor Day Telethon Logo
MDA Labor Day Telethon Logo | Source

Celebrities Like Celine Dion Support MDA

How MDA Telethon Began

In 1950, a group of people affected by muscular dystrophy, whether it be personally, through a family member or a child, combined forces with a doctor who was studying muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases to find a cure for MD, ALS and the other diseases. They created the Muscular Dystrophy Association. MDA as it is known, is a non-profit organization that is committed to finding a cure for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and other such diseases. They also try to educate the public about these diseases along with providing health care benefits and support services.

According to MDA’s website, there are eight different types of diseases that MDA conducts research on: muscular dystrophies, motor neuron diseases, metabolic diseases of muscle, diseases of peripheral nerve, inflammatory myopathies, diseases of the neuromuscular junction, myopathies due to endocrine abnormalities, and other myopathies, such as periodic paralysis. Of all the diseases, the ones most commonly known are Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and ALS, know as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

From the support of donations, MDA is able to support and help people all over the world who suffer with these diseases. They provide diagnostic and follow-up consultations, support groups, summer camps for kids with muscular diseases and so many other services.

A major event has helped since 1955 to support and raise money for MDA: the Labor Day MDA telethon, hosted for many, many years by Jerry Lewis. In 1955, the telethon raised $600,000. In 1966, when it was televised for the very first time, the telethon raised $1 million dollars. In 2010, MDA was able to raise $58.9 million dollars. Almost all of this money, 77 cents of every dollar according to the website, is dedicated to helping so many people all over the world who have muscular diseases.

How Will You Donate to MDA?

How Will You Donate to MDA?

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My Connection to MDA

He is a handsome little boy, tall like his daddy and with a sweet face like his mommy. He runs, he plays, he communicates just like any other three year old, but there’s a catch: he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, or DMD. This has not stopped him yet. Yes, progress has been slow for him, but he has not given up, thanks to the support and love of family and friends who have helped his small family and made donations to MDA.

His parents have been friends of my husband and me since high school. After they married and had their first child, a little boy, they were so happy. He was a beautiful baby. It wasn’t until it was discovered that he was having trouble learning to crawl that his small family learned his diagnosis: he had Duchennes, a disease that would affect his muscles, keeping them weak in his legs, hips, thighs and shoulders. He would have trouble crawling and walking. After short time spans of movement, he would need to rest to regain his strength. Life would not be easy for this child.

But you would never know it. It has been a blessing knowing that through the help of physical therapy, he is able to walk, run and play like any other toddler.

Donating to MDA helps to make a difference in this child’s life as well as thousands of other children and adults. If you are able, donate to this worthy cause. If you are not able as these are difficult times, maybe you could donate your time and volunteer to help at events like the telethon or camps. Together, we can help MDA find cures for muscular diseases.

To find out more information about how you can help, go to

Update 2012: Noah

Noah, the boy mentioned above, is continuing to do well. Now four years old, he is speaking better and still acting like a fun little toddler. He has fun playing with his younger brother and keeps his parents and family full of happiness and hope.

This year he was chosen as the ambassador for the local chapter of MDA. To find out more about this awesome little boy, read the article from Happenings Magazine, page 12: An MDA Ambassador of Hope.

Jerry Lewis and the MDA Telethon

What Can You Do? Donate to MDA!

There are a few different ways the public can help. Of course, you can pledge a donation during the Labor Day telethon, which is televised on major television networks. You can also donate any time of the year by phone, online, or by mail. You can plan to leave MDA a donation in your estate planning, volunteer for the telethon or other events (locally we have lock-ups where people donate money to ‘bail’ volunteers out of jail), make a business donation or ask your company to match your donation. There's even MDA's Muscle Walk that occurs annually where teams 'walk' in a course and collect donations for MDA. For more information, visit MDA’s website.



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