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MDA invites public to vote for favorite telethon moment

by jmaloni

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Tue, Jul 8th 2014 04:00 pm

Top four to be featured on 49th annual broadcast of "MDA Show of Strength Telethon"

For the first time, the Muscular Dystrophy Association's nationally broadcast "MDA Show of Strength Telethon," one of America's longest-standing and most beloved fundraising and entertainment events, will invite America to help shape the content of the show that airs this Labor Day weekend.

"For decades, countless memorable moments and awe-inspiring performances have taken place on the MDA telethon stage," said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. "And thanks to robust support from some of the biggest stars in show business, many of these moments have continued to stay in the hearts of viewers, and have helped make MDA a mainstay among America's top nonprofit organizations."

To celebrate some of these memories, MDA is opening the vault to its video archives and inviting visitors to http://mda.org/showofstrength/vote, where they can view a variety of clips of some of the best moments in MDA telethon history and cast their vote for their favorite one. Among the videos to vote from are performances and appearances by Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, Celine Dion, will.i.am, Tim McGraw, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ed McMahon and, of course, the legendary Jerry Lewis.

Site visitors also will be automatically encouraged to share their favorite video on Facebook and Twitter and tell their friends about the video that got their vote. Users can return to the site each day to vote again and see how their video ranks among the rest. The top four moments to earn the most votes by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3, will air during the telethon broadcast.

ABC has renewed its commitment to air the two-hour MDA "Show of Strength Telethon" on its stations across the country. As in the past, the entertainment event will raise funds and awareness and acknowledge partners who support MDA's mission to save and improve the lives of children and adults affected by progressive and often fatal muscle diseases. The 2014 MDA "Show of Strength Telethon" will air Sunday, Aug. 31 (9 p.m.), on ABC.

"Our primetime spectacular on ABC will offer up great entertainment and inspire millions of viewers with dramatic stories of children and adults waging battles against life-threatening muscle diseases," Derks said. "Our telethon provides an incredible opportunity to celebrate everyone who's helping to drive MDA's breathtaking progress in the search for treatments and cures ... including our sponsor partners, members of the entertainment industry, the doctors and scientists, and, of course, the American public who so generously donate every year. Together, we are making progress in our mission to save and prolong the lives of everyone fighting muscle disease."

Musical performers and celebrity presenters for this year's telethon will be announced in early August. Artists generously donate their time and talent to help make the event a success. The MDA telethon also will feature compelling stories of strength and hope profiling children and adults living with these diseases.

MDA's first Labor Day weekend telethon was broadcast in 1966 on a single New York station. It has since become the most successful fundraising event in the history of television. The show, with its iconic host Jerry Lewis, 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.

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. This year marks the 49th annual MDA telethon.

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., Lowe's, Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Jiffy Lube International, National Association of Letter Carriers, The Safeway Foundation, 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.

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, spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world's leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to saving and improving the lives of anyone with muscle disease. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures; 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 mda.org and follow MDA at facebook.com/MDAnational and @MDAnews. Learn more about MDA's mission by watching this video.

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