A red white and blue telephone is ringing off the hook as money flies out of the receiver

Memories of the Labor Day Telethon

Last updated: December 2022

I’m sure we all can remember that Labor Day meant watching the Jerry Lewis’s Muscular Dystrophy Telethon.  It was always an emotional experience for me.  My senior year of high school my girlfriend and I volunteered at our local Moose Hall to answer the phones taking donations for this cause.  This became a yearly cause for us.

I didn't know about SMA - yet

At that point in our lives we did not know anyone who carried any of these diseases. Being introduced by watching and eventually volunteering certainly made this an important cause every Labor Day.

As I grew into an adult out in the working world my help was to make my donations. It became an important tradition for me to be a part of. Ironically, this tradition became such an important part of our family’s life. Our son was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at the age of five and the MDA became our lifeline.

A happy camp experience

As a family we did experience the many benefits offered by the telethon’s financial success.  First of all it was our son’s opportunity to go to Camp (his first time being away from family). This experience every summer was truly a happy time to look forward to. In addition this offered him a time to mature and build his confidence.

Other benefits for the family

There are a number of benefits we experienced over the years. The MDA clinic at Children’s Hospital where he was seen every six months and offered continued orthopedic and physical therapy advice and treatment. The emotional support was a parents dream which helped with our fears for our child.

One year after the summer camp Michael and his aide were invited to participate on the Telethon in Philadelphia to be interviewed about their feelings on their summer camp experience. This was such a happy, but nervous time for Mike being on live television.

Here again the Telethon provided us another benefit.

Support lead to successful treatments

As the years pass we continue to find ourselves benefiting from all those Telethons. The years of financially supporting the scientists with their discovery of treatments and possible cures for many of these diseases.

Speaking as a parent I know that each of us are beyond thankful for all the years of work from those Telethons. Because of them we are seeing the hope we lived with for our child’s health is finally a reality.

Even more so the adult children that lived in hope of “someday” can now feel more hopeful for their health in the future.  It’s obvious that the ability to now treat younger children gives them a better chance to address the weaknesses of many years without these treatments.

The bottom line is that each one of us whether you are the one carrying this disease or the parent who wants nothing else but a cure for your own child.  We all must remember just how much hard work and the many caring intelligent people who made these treatments possible.

Thank you

For me it’s so important to remember that one man made a difference for so many affected with all the diseases under that heading Muscular Dystrophy.  Thank you Mr. Jerry Lewis.

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