TUCSON, Ariz., Sept. 3, 2012 — Kicked off with the electrifying song "This Is Love" by Grammy-winning artist will.i.am, the all-new MDA SHOW of STRENGTH presented three hours of prime-time entertainment while raising awareness of MDA's research and services missions, its sponsors and the people it serves.
The show, which aired Sunday night, Sept. 2 and featured local segments produced by MDA’s “Love Network” of 150 stations across the country, redefined the tradition of MDA’s Labor Day Telethon with a faster pace and performances targeted to engage show viewers in MDA’s cause.
“We’re truly grateful to members of the public who responded to our SHOW of STRENGTH with generous contributions made by phoning, texting or giving online,” said MDA Interim President and Medical Director Valerie Cwik, M.D. “We hope that the momentum started by the show this weekend has inspired our viewers to learn more about MDA and be involved all year long.”
The show presented a variety of musical styles, from country sensation Carrie Underwood to rap artist Pitbull, aka Mr. Worldwide, who ended his performance by inviting MDA’s 12-year-old National Goodwill Ambassador Bryson Foster to be a guest at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas in late September and declaring, “We need you guys more than you need us. You’re the ones that are strong.”
Other performers included: B.o.B, Brandy, Hot Chelle Rae, OneRepublic, All-American Rejects, Gavin DeGraw, Karmin, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Luke Bryan, Eva Simons, Silhouettes and Alanis Morissette.
“You’ve Got a Friend,” performed by legendary singer-songwriter Carole King and accompanied by images of MDA families, provided the emotional, inspirational finale.
Also appearing were: Nancy O’Dell, Jann Carl, Alison Sweeney, Ryan Seacrest, WWE Champion The Miz, Paula Abdul, Khloé Kardashian Odom, Max Adler, Lou Ferrigno, Ace Young, Diana DeGarmo, Jesse McCartney, and Benji and Joel Madden.
People can visit mda.org to view performances, backstage interviews and exclusive online bonus performances that did not air on the Sept. 2 broadcast.
As a way of saying “thank you” to viewers and the generous public for its ongoing support of MDA, the exclusive bonus performances include: Carole King singing “Beautiful” and OneRepublic with their smash hit “Good Life.”
Fans of Hot Chelle Rae can see them perform “Whatever”; Alanis Morissette sings “You Learn”; Gavin DeGraw delivers with his song “Soldier”; and B.o.B contributes two performances, “So Good” and “Strange Clouds.”
Families give new meaning to the word ‘strength’
Individuals and families affected by neuromuscular diseases — such as Bryson Foster, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy — were the real stars of the show and were introduced in profile segments.
In addition to Bryson, the show featured 14-year-old Latondra Chappell, who has central core disease; 17-year-old Kennedy Healy, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA); 7-year-old Reagan Imhoff, also affected by SMA; and 12-year-old Justin Moy, a science enthusiast with congenital muscular dystrophy who says he wants to “become a biochemist and find a cure for muscular dystrophy.”
Featured adults included Veronica Niño and Shaun Probert, both of whom have ALS, and Angela Wrigglesworth, a fourth-grade teacher with SMA who shared that MDA summer camp helped her “to become an independent woman.”
Also appearing were MDA spokespeople Augie and Lynne Nieto, Luke Christie, Abbey Umali, Kelly Mahoney, Benjamin Cumbo, Mandy Beckham (formerly Mandy Van Benthuysen) and Lucas Cook.
Tradition of support
Special acknowledgment was made of the crucial support provided by MDA national sponsors, including: Acosta, Burger King, CITGO Petroleum Corp., Harley-Davidson, International Association of Fire Fighters, Jiffy Lube International, Lowe’s, National Association of Letter Carriers, Safeway, 7-Eleven, and 7UP.
“In one night, we presented great entertainment, inspiring stories and the unwavering support of our national sponsors and called on the American public to join our ‘muscle’ team,” said MDA Executive Vice President of Business Development Kevin Moran. “MDA SHOW of STRENGTH is bringing a whole new energy to MDA and pointing the way to exciting new directions for all of us who are dedicated to advancing MDA’s mission.”
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
In addition to funding some 300 research projects worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics; facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and provides local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters living with progressive muscle diseases.
For information on the rich history of the telethon, visit mda.org/about/telethon-history.