People help MDA because MDA helps people

Posted: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 by Travis Cody in

But this year, people helped MDA without Jerry Lewis, who did not appear on the telethon he originated after 58 years of heading the efforts to raise billions for research and patient care.  All things evolve, but it was a shock to learn that last year was the actual final time I would see Mr Lewis on Labor Day, where he has been part of my life since I was 5 years old.

I expected 2011 to be the final year, as previously announced.  But for whatever reasons, the 85 year old Mr Lewis and MDA parted ways earlier than they said. 

The telethon was different this year, and not just because Mr Lewis was absent.  It was only broadcast for 6 hours on Sunday evening.  Information was jammed into the shorter time frame, mixed in with features about those stricken with the various neuro-muscular diseases as well as performances.  I didn't see a tote board, so there was no tracking the funds raised.

One of the changes I did enjoy was to see more active participation of Luke Christie and Abbey Umali.  Luke was national goodwill ambassador in 2006 and 2007, and now serves as MDA national youth chairman.  Abbey wraps up her 4th term as national goodwill ambassador this year and has raised over $50k on her own through read-a-thons.

But regardless of the format or the host, Americans are generous.  Reports this morning indicate that the final total pledged was $61,491,393, which is up from last year's total of $58,919,838 and also exceeded the 2009 total of $60,481,231.

I don't know what happened between the MDA and Mr Lewis.  Change is always hard.  The MDA will get a portion of my charitable contributions every year until a cure is found.  That is my pledge.

The new production can end the telethon however they like, but for me, this is the way the way we part ways until next year.

Thank you, Mr Lewis, for your years of dedication.

Reason 59:  Because I don't know how to be indifferent to the suffering that goes on in the world.  I blog for peace because to be idle is to lend some measure of credibility to the idea that it's enough that I am not suffering in this moment.  When one suffers we all are the worse for it.

Join us on 4 November.  I believe that words have power, so this matters.


  1. JohnH985 says:

    From what I've read Jerry was supposed to appear at the end and wrap the telethon up and sing his song but he decided that he didn't want to be in just the end and if he couldn't appear on the whole show he wasn't going to appear.

  1. Jeni says:

    Perhaps, at his age now, maybe Mr. Lewis has some physical problems that would hinder him from being the active participant-leader he has been for 58 years for this event. Good to know that they received a strong response to their fund-raiser though.

  1. I too was shocked that Lewis wasn't involved, although I knew it had to come.

  1. jennifer says:

    Gosh Travis, I haven't watched the telethon in years but I remember watching it as a kid. I always give when the local fire department does 'Pass the Boot' - same charity, I think.

    Hope you have a wonderful week!

  1. I was surprised to see 5-6 hours scheduled and not the 24 hours I remember as a kid...

  1. John: It was probably best to make a clean break. But it sure was strange not to see him.

    Jeni: He made me so nervous in 2009 when he was wobbly and unsteady, and didn't seem to be able to breathe well. Last year he was spry and lively.

    Charles: I was prepared for the 2011 show to be his last. I kind of felt cut off at the knees.

    Jennifer: Yup. Firefighters rock.

    V: That surprised me too. I read that most of the reasons were that a lot of networks were dropping the full coverage. That's the case in Seattle.