Don’t Look For the MDA Telethon on Labor Day – It’s Been Pulled
In case you missed the news earlier this year, an almost 50-year TV tradition has come to an end. If you're flipping through the channels for the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day telethon, you won't find it.
The MDA website says, "The new realities of television viewing and philanthropic giving have made this the right time for the organization to move beyond its historic Labor Day telethon." The charity's CEO Stephen Danks noted the significance of last summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon. He said it "affirmed for us that today’s families, donors and sponsors are looking to us for new, creative and organic ways to support our mission."
Instead of their 20-hour telethon, or even the shorter prime time special that we've seen in recent years the MDA has turned to using "digital and mobile channels... as part of an emerging year-round plan to revitalize its brand, connect with donors more frequently, strengthen family support, and attract and recognize sponsors in new ways."
It was 1966 when Jerry Lewis began hosting the Labor Day Telethon in New York. Only a couple years later, it was syndicated nationally and became known for attracting stars like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior to Michael Jackson and John Lennon.
Jerry Lewis did his last telethon in 2010 and the program was gradually cut back to just a two-hour special the night before Labor Day. But let's not forget the legacy that the telethon left having raised a total of $2 billion for research and assistance programs.