People help MDA because MDA helps people

Posted: Monday, September 03, 2012 by Travis Cody in

People will still help MDA.  But they'll no longer get a telethon.  Last year there was a 6 hour live broadcast without Jerry Lewis.  This year, it's down to 3 hours and they call it a "show of strength".  It's also not live.

Yeah.  What used to be a 21.5 hour live event full of information and entertainment is now a 3 hour recorded broadcast.

Tradition sure is quaint.  Mr Lewis' 58 year association with MDA has essentially been erased, and it only took them about a year to get that done.  No tote board on the program.  No tympani to roll the numbers.  No last hour surge of pledges so the numbers built to that $1 more than last year.

If you're not live, why clutter it up with all that stuff?

A portion of my charitable dollars each year will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association until a cure is found.  That is my pledge.  MDA has been my charity of choice since I was 5 years old.  That won't change.  The people who suffer from neuro muscular diseases shouldn't lose my contribution to a cure because some people decided to ditch Jerry Lewis and a telethon that was part of my life for 43 years.

Mr Lewis brought national attention to this disease and to the organization founded to find a cure.  He was dedicated to fund raising for 58 years, either on radio or on television.  He helped to produce one of the all time great vaudeville shows, and presented it annually despite a lot of silly criticism about his methods.

Jerry Lewis entertained and informed.  His detractors often say he exploited those who suffered from dystrophic diseases.  I say he gave them a voice and a national vehicle so they could advocate for themselves.  Jerry could bring you to tears with his impassioned monologues.  And then he'd turn the microphone over to Bob Sampson, who would demonstrate that a full and complete life lived with dignity and respect was within anyone's grasp, despite seemingly insurmountable challenges.  Mr Sampson was a vice president of United Airlines, and lived with muscular dystrophy from the age of 5 until is death in 2006.

Showing children and their families, or adults stricken with ALS, has never been about getting the public's pity.  It's about letting real people tell their real stories so that we can somehow understand, even remotely, that it can happen to anyone.  And that everyone can use a little help now and then.  And that showing compassion, and helping others, is fundamentally a human thing to do.

That's what Jerry Lewis was unapologetically about, 24x7x365, but particularly front and center on Labor Day.  And that's what I'll miss.

So the MDA will get my dollars.  They'll even get $1 more from me each year because that is what Mr Lewis always told me to do.  Mr Lewis told me to give until it helps.

Yes Sir, Mr Lewis.  I'm there for MDA, and will be until there is a cure.


  1. Ivanhoe says:

    Oh Trav! So sad but beautiful! You have a big heart, Mister!
    Happy labor day :)

  1. What a Treasure he is! I grew up on Jerry and the Telethon, too. I think he began the telethon just 2 years before I was born. So yeah, all of my lifetime. I have a close friend who has Muscular Dystrophy. I still maintain hope that all of the Neuromuscular diseases will be cured in her lifetime.

    Well done, Jerry. You've devoted most of your lifetime to a very worthy cause. You've helped. A lot. Well done, indeed.

  1. Labor Day week end is just not the same with out Jerry Lewis! And Jerry will never walk alone in his quest to find a cure as long as I am on this earth. Great post Trav!

  1. Sometimes I've seen that attempts to treat people with MD and other like diseases as normal, to joke with and tease with them, is seen by some as exploiting and mean. I don't think Jerry Lewis ever meant to be mean.

  1. Linda says:

    Great post for a great cause.

    I was never a big Jerry Lewis fan as far as his comedy goes but you can't be help but be a fan as far as his devotion to this charity goes. The MDA couldn't have found a better spokesperson if they tried ... unless they found you!

  1. Interesting blog!!!! =D keep up the good job ya~

  1. I was never a huge fan of the telethon, but I had all the admiration and respect in the world for what Jerry Lewis did each year. He was not my favorite comedian, but each year he gave everything he had for a cause that he believed in. Not many of us are willing to do that.