ABC is the New Home of 'MDA Show of Strength Telethon'

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

June 17th, 2013


via press release:




The Annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon Will Air Labor Day Weekend,

Sunday, September 1 on ABC



The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s nationally broadcast telethon, one of America’s longest-standing and beloved fundraising and entertainment events, will return this Labor Day weekend with a new broadcast home -- the ABC Television Network.


The network has signed on to air the two-hour “MDA Show of Strength Telethon” on ABC stations across the country on SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET). As in the past, the entertainment event will raise funds and awareness to support MDA’s mission to help children and adults affected by progressive and often fatal muscle diseases.


“This is a remarkably hopeful time for MDA and our mission to find new treatments and cures as we set our sights on pursuing muscle health,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “We’re delighted to partner with ABC. Broadcasting our show nationwide and on primetime TV provides a critically important way to tell our story of progress in fighting muscle disease, while recognizing and engaging new supporters.”


This is the first time in MDA’s 48-year history of doing annual telethons that it will broadcast on a single television network. Previously, it partnered with an ad-hoc lineup of network affiliates in markets across the U.S. In recent years the majority of the stations have been ABC affiliates, which makes the new exclusive agreement with ABC a natural fit.


MDA is in the process of securing artists for this year’s telethon and all performers generously donate their time and talent to help make the event a success. The MDA telethon also will feature compelling stories of survival and hope profiling children and adults affected by muscle disease.


R.A. (RAC) Clark, longtime executive producer of the Academy of Country Music Awards, served as the MDA telethon’s executive producer in 2012 and will return this year. Clark has extensive producing credits on all major networks, including ABC.


In addition to funds contributed by the public, substantial support also comes from MDA’s family of national sponsors, whose work throughout the year on behalf of MDA will be recognized on the telethon. Among the sponsors: International Association of Fire Fighters, CITGO Petroleum Corp., Safeway, Lowe’s, Harley-Davidson, Jiffy Lube International, National Association of Letter Carriers, 7-Eleven, Dr Pepper Snapple Group/7UP, Acosta and Burger King.


At the community level, MDA is planning telethon-viewing parties with hundreds of local groups to rally support for the more than 1 million Americans it helps with lifesaving support and services. MDA also is planning a comprehensive digital and social media campaign to drive online fundraising and engage supporters in new ways.


Over the decades, 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 life-saving 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).


“Individuals with neuromuscular diseases are living longer, stronger lives thanks to the advances we’ve made over the years – particularly in the last decade -- thanks in large part to past MDA supporters,” said MDA Chairman of the Board R. Rodney Howell, M.D. “We’re redoubling our efforts to find and fund new discoveries that will save lives.”


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 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.


The telethon has consistently enjoyed robust support from thousands of the biggest stars in show business. However, the real stars on the broadcast have always been the MDA families who have graciously agreed to open their homes and hearts to America and tell their stories of strength.


About MDA

MDA is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding breakthrough research, by providing life-saving support, services and advocacy, and by rallying communities to fight back, all made possible by its generous supporters. For more information, visit and follow us on and @MDAnews.

  • What Am I Missing Here?

    So, it’s been cut down to 2 hours from 21 hours?

  • Gary Middleton

    Not directly from 21 to 2.

    In 2011 it was cut to 6 hours. Last year it was only 3.

  • Androme

    Either way, this is sad. I used to love watching the MDA telethon when it was 21 hours long with Jerry Lewis as host. I even watched the entire thing from start to finish the last year of the 21-hour marathon. I don’t know if this is to make it better, but I think it diminishes the legacy of the MDA telethon greatly. I might watch, but not in comfort.

  • roly

    Wow from 21 to 2 hours,no mention of Jerry Lewis,sadddddddddddd.

  • DanaK

    Androme, a 21 hour telethon no longer is feasible these days I guess. I too used to look forward to the telethon as a child and whether I could stay up. In later years, I stopped bothering and I suspect a lot of other people did too. Stations were starting to drop out. They can probably get similar pledges these days with a more high profile network during 2 hours of prime time than they could before. Look at the various other high profile charity endeavors like the recent OK one. They managed to get several million dollars in pledges in only 1 or 2 hours.

    Unless I’m mistaken, the huge 50 million+ (or whatever it finally was in the last few years) tally was really from corporate donations and the amount raised local stations was much, much smaller.

  • Joseph

    First, the MDA Telethon, if it is to be restricted to prime-time, should be no less than four hours, from 8 P.M. to 12 Midnight EDT, aired live in all time zones.

    Secondly, if the telethon is only four hours in length, it should be broadcast on the Monday evening of Labor Day weekend, since people will be home from their weekend outings (and in many cases, getting their children set for school, since the day after Labor Day is when most of the nation’s K-12 schools begin the new academic year).

    Personally, I long for both Jerry Lewis and the 21-hour length (9 P.M. EDT Monday until 6 P.M. EDT Monday), although if the MDA ever brought back the 21-hour length, I’d prefer that it be from Sunday 12 Midnight EDT to Monday at 9 P.M. EDT, again to try to catch people coming home on Monday from their Labor Day weekend activities.

    I also wonder if the move to ABC was to prevent WGN America’s broadcast from diverting funds to MDA phone banks in Chicago that otherwise would be pledged to MDA phone banks set up at local stations carrying the show.

  • Joseph

    One other thought: I thought that in the mid-1950’s, shortly after he began volunteering for MDA, didn’t Jerry Lewis convince his comedy partner Dean Martin to join him for a prime-time fundraising special for MDA that aired on ABC-TV??

    If that’s the case, the move of the telethon to ABC is “Back To The Future”.

  • Fake Me Out

    A sad shadow of it’s former self. Cutting the hours and Jerry just makes it a pointless endeavour … why even bother? Close the book, call it a day, say goodnight Gracie.

  • TV Viewer

    Jerry Lewis (born March 16, 1926), is 87 years old. I hope he lives to be 120 years old, but, he probably does not have the ability to host the show anymore. God Bless him, Jerry should have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with MDA. He was considered, but, of course, did not get one.

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