People help MDA because MDA helps people

Posted: Tuesday, September 07, 2010 by Travis Cody in

Jerry Lewis looked so much better this year hosting the telethon.  Last year he made me nervous.  He looked so old and frail.  But this year, at 85, the man was vibrant and bright-eyed.  He looked healthy and relaxed.

He sat through the majority of his on-air time, and I'm OK with that.  

I thought the program was slick this year.  Last year it felt disjointed and as short of breath and health as Jerry seemed.  But this time around it looked fresh and polished.  The talent was top-notch, and the information was encouraging.

As I wrote last year, the cure is close.  Scientists have identified so many genes that have led to clinical trials and then to actual therapies that have slowed the degenerative progression of many of the neuro-muscular diseases under the Muscular Dystrophy umbrella.  There's still a long way to go.  But there continues to be hope.

Abbey Umali is 10 years old and in her third year as National Goodwill Ambassador.  She suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, in the form of congenital hypomyelinating neuropathy. It attacks her coordination and balance, and causes muscle weakness.

Last year I told you that she did a read-a-thon to raise money for MDA.  She read 35 books and raised about $5,000.  This year, she introduced the opening act for the telethon.  And this past summer, she read 50 books and raised more than $20,000!  That was the first total on the big national tote board in Las Vegas.

She's an inspiration.  She's not a victim.  She's an advocate...she's her own advocate and an advocate for others afflicted with these diseases.

It still bugs me that I don't get to watch the entire program, although I have made my peace.  From 9am to 5pm on Labor Day, I get enough of the program to see some great talent and catch up on any important research and clinical breakthroughs I might have missed throughout the year.

If you haven't yet, you can still donate by going to the MDA website.  You can also click on the the MDA button on my sidebar throughout the year to get information and perhaps toss over a few extra dollars.

I have said this in the past.  Americans can be cynical.  Americans can be self-righteous.  Americans can be loud, obnoxious, and stubborn.

Americans are also generous.

As the economy continues to sputter, Americans still dug deep and contributed $58,919,838.  Last year's total was $60,481,231, well down from the 2008 total of more than $65m.  

The International Association of Firefighters collected $27.8m, mainly from their Fill the Boot campaigns.

Other corporate sponsers such as Safeway ($11.0m), Lowes ($5.4m), and others added millions more. All of that money goes to make sure that the research continues, and that comprehensive health care provides whatever is necessary to improve the quality of life for MDA patients and their families.

Jerry Lewis has championed this cause for 60 years, 45 years on television with the annual Labor Day telethon. The first telethon in 1966 raised $1 million. To date, Jerry has raised more nearly $3.0 billion from private donations.

Please give till it helps.


  1. I actually look forward to the telethon each year. I remember watching it when I was a wee child and I was so intrigued by the people who would "drop by."

  1. We could not find it on the TV. Hubs and I both felt like something was missing from this day and it was Jerry Lewis and his MDA telethon.

    What a great tribute you wrote to him. Thanks for the reminder.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Abbey Umali is definitely an inspiration. I hope the telethon raises the necessary funds

  1. I always have and I always will. Nice post Travis.

  1. Nice post Trav. We got a little more of the program than you did, apparently. Ours started at 8:00 p.m. Sunday night and continued on Monday.

  1. A very nice post, hon. Kudos to Jerry Lewis--he's been doing this my whole life now! Amazing to consider...

  1. Jeff B says:

    This is the first year in many that I didn't see any of it.

  1. AMTG: I've been watching for as long as I can remember. The telethon has always been an event for me.

    Pam: It sucks to live in an area that doesn't broadcast the entire 21 1/2 hours.

    Charles: Indeed.

    Akelamalu: She's an amazing kid. She would be even without her unique challenges.

    NNG: Thanks!

    GGG: That's what I used to get, until I moved to the Seattle area.

    Lana: Isn't it? He just keeps on going, through good health and bad.

    Jeff: I enjoyed what I got to see.

  1. I used to watch this every year since way way back. I'm sorry I missed it. Thanks for the recap. It really paved the way for fundraising via television. Jerry Lewis is synonymous with what it means to put your beliefs into actual actions. I hope the cure comes soon and he gets to enjoy the news when it does.

    Abbey IS an inspiration and he looks fabulous for 85.