Stars Announced for MDA Telethon This Labor Day Weekend on ABC

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

August 19th, 2013

AMERICAN IDOL: Ryan Seacrest. CR: Warwick Saint / FOX

via press release:



Ryan Seacrest, Backstreet Boys, Darius Rucker, Paula Abdul, Enrique Iglesias,

Matthew Morrison and Austin Mahone Among Those to Appear on Two-Hour Broadcast


The Muscular Dystrophy Association has announced a star-studded celebrity lineup that will appear on its 48th annual telethon this Labor Day weekend, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Called “The MDA Show of Strength,” the telethon will feature: Ryan Seacrest, Backstreet Boys, country stars Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack, “Glee” stars Matthew Morrison and Jessica Sanchez, Enrique Iglesias, Paula Abdul, teenage pop sensation Austin Mahone, hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez, Kenny Loggins with the Blue Sky Riders, American blues rock band Vintage Trouble and Universal recording artist and star from the “The Voice” Chris Mann.


Additional presenters for the 2013 show include: ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser, “Dancing with the Stars” Season 11 contestant and “Brady Bunch” mom Florence Henderson, Emmy Award-winning journalist Jann Carl, Olympic gold medal gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, and “No Doubt” drummer Adrian Young and his son, Mason Young.


This year’s lineup will deliver one-of-a-kind show performances as they join celebrity presenters to engage viewers with powerful “stories of strength” and moving calls-to-action to help families affected by muscle diseases.


“The MDA telethon is an American tradition, powered by celebrities, national sponsors and, most of all, generous individuals who watch and donate,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “This year we’ll tell a powerful story of the progress we’re making and breaking developments underway in the fight against muscle disease. We want America to get a glimpse of the hope we have that new lifesaving treatments are on the horizon as told through the eyes of courageous people fighting various neuromuscular diseases. On behalf of the tens of thousands of families we serve, MDA is remarkably hopeful and enormously grateful to all our supporters who make this progress possible. We think this year’s show will be our best ever, truly a moving and entertaining two-hour experience.”


R.A. (RAC) Clark, longtime executive producer of the Academy of Country Music Awards, will return this year as MDA telethon executive producer. The week before the broadcast, MDA is planning kickoff parties in communities in every state in the nation to rally interest and engage new supporters.
A public service campaign is being launched this week to promote the show.


While the telethon has consistently enjoyed robust support from some of the biggest celebrities in show business, MDA says the real stars on the broadcast are the individuals and families served by MDA, including six families who will tell their stories of survival and hope during the 2013 broadcast.


The complete list of profiles includes:


  • Cooper Somers, a vivacious Houston toddler battling spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), who tragically lost his dad in a car accident in the past year
  • Reagan Imhoff, a lovable and driven 8-year-old from suburban Milwaukee, also diagnosed as having SMA, with big dreams of becoming a professional dancer
  • 11-year-old identical twins Nolan and Jack Willis from Fayetteville, NY, who have Duchenne muscular dystrophy and are taking part in a promising clinical trial
  • India Peters, 21, an adventurous young lady from Oxon Hill, M.D., learning to transition into adulthood while dealing with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD);
  • Juan Morales, 28, from Pembroke Pines, FL, who is fighting SMA and has a master’s degree in psychology from Florida International University; and
  • Ben Thomas, 32, from St. George, UT, who is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with help from his loving wife, Jena, and 3-year-old daughter, Emmerson. and Social Media

MDA supporters are encouraged to visit to enhance their telethon viewing experience. New this year, site visitors can vote for their favorite MDA Telethon Memorable Moments featuring classic footage that includes the legendary Jerry Lewis, who generously hosted the MDA event for decades. Visitors also can check out and share exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the telethon with celebrities and MDA families, view and submit a photo to a special Instagram gallery of “Make a Muscle” photos from around the world, and sign on to be a “Muscle Maker” for $19 a month. MDA social channels include Facebook at, Twitter at, Google+ at, Instagram at and Pinterest at


MDA Telethon History

The MDA telethon is one of America’s longest-standing and beloved fundraising and entertainment events. For 48 years, 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 lifesaving 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).


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 Jerry Lewis as its iconic host through 2010, and 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.


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, 7UP, Acosta and Burger King.


About MDA

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement. Visit and follow us at and @MDAnews.


About ABC Entertainment Group

Formed in 2009, the ABC Entertainment Group, comprised of ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios, develops and produces compelling programming across all day parts for both national and international broadcast and digital platforms, as well as for national syndication. ABC Studios’ current hits include “Army Wives” (Lifetime), “Castle,” “Cougar Town” (TBS), “Criminal Minds” (CBS), “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Nashville,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Perception” (TNT), “Revenge” and “Scandal.” The ABC Television Network is also home to the Emmy-winning “Modern Family” and comedy favorite “The Middle”; reality phenomenon “Shark Tank” and long-running hit “Dancing with the Stars”; “General Hospital,” which just celebrated its 50th anniversary on the network, along with daytime talk shows “The View,” “Katie” and “The Chew”; and Jimmy Kimmel Live, which successfully launched its new 11:35 p.m. time period earlier this year. The network also boasts some of television’s most prestigious awards shows, including The Academy Awards®, the Country Music Awards, The American Music Awards and The Billboard Music Awards.

  • Raz

    Bring Jerry Back!

  • Ralph Hahn

    Yes! At least give Jerry a spot of the telethon that HE turned it into a major fundraiser that it is.

    Ryan Seacrest? Isn’t he already on everything else? Throw someone else a few bucks. Nothing personal against gay Americans, but they have all of the awards show host jobs.

  • KK

    MDA really screwed themselves when they dropped Jerry without even giving him a chance to say goodbye. Telethon is a joke now. Nobody cares, the buzz is gone, donations are down, and they single handedly destroyed an American tradition. Lewis really took the high road here and has yet to comment publicly on his dismissal.

  • KK

    I doubt any performers are receiving a salary for appearing on the telethon. SeaCRUST is becoming a bit overexposed but he IS the hardest working man in show business!

  • KK

    By moving it to ABC, MDA broke off its relationship with many of the stations that have carried it for decades including WGN in Chicago, KTVU in San Francisco, WWOR in New York, KCAL in Los Angeles, WPHL in Philly, and the list goes on. There will be no local segments or cutaways.

  • TV Viewer

    Give Jerry Lewis a Nobel Prize for the work with MDA for the past several decades. He’s earned it.

  • Gus

    KK is right on all of his (or her) points. Without Jerry getting a proper farewell after all he did for the telethon cheapens the show’s and effort greatly. People nowadays hardly know it is there anymore.

  • Ashlee

    What a slap in Alison Sweeney’s face that Ryan Seacrest will be hosting the MDA Telethon. She’s been hosing The Biggest Loser for years now along with co-hosting MDA every year.

  • Ashlee

    I say bring Jerry back. I sure as hell will not be donating anything this year to MDA. Jerry was real, he was for the people.

  • Leeann

    As much as I love Jerry and would love for him to make an appearance on the telethon, he stopped hosting the telethon MEDICAL REASONS! Honestly IMO the telethon hasn’t been the same since Ed McMahon died! The guy that replaced him that year just could NOT say “HEEEERRRRREESSS Jerry!” The way that Ed could!

  • Spiro Agnew

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    It doesn’t matter how Mr. Jerry Lewis is, isn’t, what he does or doesn’t do, or how germain he is, or isn’t, or popular, or how old he is…
    The facts are that he raised over 1 billion dollars for this organization, that kept the MDA on the map, made it pertinent, and guaranteed it’s existence in perpetuatity.
    They should put Mr. Lewis on a throne, either in the audience, and at times in stage, and just honor him, and pay homage to him, as long as he’s alive.
    Whatever he cost them, it cost them allot more by not having Mr. Lewis there.
    The MDA losts hundred’s of million of dollars, since they just dumped Mr. Lewis in a ditch, and tried to erase his memory.
    Well, there are millions of people, around the world whose memory you can’t erase, and the hundreds of millions you lose, every two years, till the new generation that doesn’t know Mr. Lewis comes of age, is staggering, and sad, for the help that thousands of MDA kids, and Adults w/ be out of…
    I guess all the young people w/ the degrees from Harvard, Yale, etc..still can’t do simple Arithmetic..

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