The Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, a Labor Day television tradition for decades, is ending.
MDA mad the announcement on Friday saying it was the right time to end the annual event, memorably hosted for most of its life by entertainer Jerry Lewis. MDA said the following in a news release-
“MDA, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, today announced that 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. It will discontinue production of a broadcast telethon effective this year.
MDA plans to invest more in digital and mobile channels for consumer engagement and activation. The organization will continue to share the inspirational stories of MDA families on Labor Day and throughout the year via digital 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.
‘The decision to end our beloved telethon was not made lightly,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “In the last few years, the show was adjusted to reflect changes in viewership and donor patterns, and last summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge once again affirmed for us that today’s families, donors and sponsors are looking to us for new, creative and organic ways to support our mission.’ “
Celebrities including Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and Michael Jackson to Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez have performed on the telethon, first hosted by Lewis and Dean Martin in 1956. It moved to Labor Day in 1966.
The telethon ran 21½ in 2010, Lewis’ last year as host, and had dwindled to a two-hour show the last two years.