MDA Raised $1 Million More In Show of Strength

September 4, 2013       Patrick Sullivan      

Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) raised more than $59.5 million dollars during its 48th annual Labor Day weekend broadcast, now known as Show of Strength. That’s nearly $1 million more than last year’ $58.7 million.

MDA returned to a national tally of funds raised this year with a new online “tote.” Last year, the only numbers that were reported were locally raised pledges during a live cut-in. The live cut-ins were done away with this year, though officials stressed that “locally raised funds stay local.” The total funds raised were both those pledged during the event as well as sponsor-related activity like point-of-sale fundraising at Safeway supermarkets and the International Association of Fire Fighters’ Fill the Boot street fundraising efforts.

This was the third year that longtime host, comedian Jerry Lewis, was not a part of the television event for the Tucson, Ariz.-based organization. In recent years, the event went from being a nearly 24-hour telethon to six hours in 2011. Last year, the broadcast was shortened to three hours and raised $58.7 million. This year it lasted just two hours.

The big change this year was going from an ad-hoc network of about 150 television providers (called the Love Network) in the past, to showing the telethon on only the ABC network. About 200 ABC stations around the country televised the Show of Strength, and the event was also streamed on MDA’s website.

MDA Vice President for Public Relations Roxan Olivas said that moving to one network was integral in raising more money than last year with a shorter show. “It’s an easier tune-in message for people to tune in and find the show,” said Olivas. “It used to be a lot harder to tell people how to tune in.” Olivas said that total number of viewers was not yet available.

Like last year, this year’s Show of Strength was pre-recorded. “The reason we do that is it give us the chance to have celebrities come in and film over three days,” said Olivas. “It’s better for scheduling and we’re able to involve a lot more celebrities.”

Olivas also said there were different local acknowledgement feeds on the East and West Coasts, in addition to premiere parties. “Wherever we had a local presence, we asked local partners, volunteers and families to come in and we showed them the show there,” she said.

The dozen acts included Paula Abdul, the Backstreet Boys and Lee Ann Womack. Presenters included actress Florence Henderson and Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, among others.