TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 22, 2013 — Reagan Imhoff of New Berlin, Wis., is returning to the MDA Show of Strength Telethon main stage this Labor Day weekend, but this time to share her own "story of strength."
Last year, Reagan lived out her dream when she starred in a moving dance performance, done from her power wheelchair; the segment was a highlight of the 2012 MDA telethon.
During the 2013 broadcast, Americans will get the chance to meet 8-year-old Reagan and her parents, Jenny and Joe, on a more personal level during a profile of the family that will air on Sunday, Sept. 1, 9/8c, on ABC television stations across the country. WISN, ABC Channel 12, will broadcast the show in the Milwaukee area. See a sneak peak of Reagan's profile here.
In addition to her profile, Reagan will be surprised with a very special gift during the two-hour broadcast from her friend, pop icon Paula Abdul.
After meeting at the 2012 MDA telethon, Abdul was so touched by Reagan's ambition to dance that she returned for this year's broadcast to present Reagan with her first pair of ballet pointe shoes.
"Reagan has always wanted to be a dancer and has talked about dancing pointe ever since she started ballet. For Joe and I to watch as Paula surprised Reagan with her very own pair of pointe shoes was truly magical, and something we will never forget," said Jenny Imhoff. "She's always wanted a pair ‘just like a real ballet dancer,’ and that gesture certainly made her feel like one — she wore them the rest of the night! Paula Abdul has been so sweet to Reagan, and we can't wait to share this special experience with everyone on Labor Day weekend."
Reagan has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. Her spirit and enthusiasm have earned her the role of Wisconsin MDA Goodwill Ambassador, and she makes regular appearances throughout the state to spread the word about MDA and its mission to find treatments and cures for muscle diseases.
“MDA is honored to introduce Reagan Imhoff and her loving parents to the American public,” said MDA President and CEO Steven Derks. “They epitomize the true meaning of ‘strength,’ as they’ve graciously and bravely agreed to share their compelling story. Our deepest thanks go to them for helping to convey the urgent, lifesaving and life-enhancing nature of our mission.”
Reagan is one of six MDA families who will tell their stories of survival and hope during the 2013 broadcast. This year's telethon will deliver one-of-a-kind show performances, powerful "stories of strength" and moving calls-to-action to help families affected by muscle diseases.
MDA maintains clinics for area children and adults with neuromuscular diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee.
The 2013 telethon will feature a star-studded celebrity lineup, including: Ryan Seacrest; Backstreet Boys; country stars Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker and Lee Ann Womack; "Glee" star Matthew Morrison; Enrique Iglesias; Paula Abdul; teenage pop sensation Austin Mahone; hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez; "American Idol" runner-up Jessica Sanchez; Kenny Loggins with the Blue Sky Riders; American blues rock band Vintage Trouble; and Universal recording artist and star from “The Voice” Chris Mann.
Additional presenters for the 2013 show include: ABC's Dr. Richard Besser; "Dancing with the Stars" contestant and "Brady Bunch" mom Florence Henderson; Emmy award-winning journalist Jann Carl; Olympic gold medal gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner; and No Doubt drummer Adrian Young and his son Mason Young.
As in the past, the entertainment event will raise funds and awareness to support MDA’s mission to help children and adults affected by progressive and often fatal muscle diseases.
While the telethon has consistently enjoyed robust support from some of the biggest celebrities in show business, the real stars on the telethon are the individuals and families served by MDA.
The MDA telethon is one of America’s longest-standing and beloved fundraising and entertainment events. For 48 years, funds raised by MDA telethons also have contributed to the organization’s worldwide research program. Today, through current clinical trials, there is growing excitement that new lifesaving treatments and discoveries are on the horizon for many of the disorders MDA is dedicated to defeating, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
MDA’s first Labor Day weekend telethon was broadcast in 1966 on a single New York station and has become the most successful fundraising event in the history of television. The show, with Jerry Lewis as its iconic host through 2010, and with help from a legion of top celebrities and entertainers, has raised millions each year to provide life-enhancing support and services for the families MDA serves.
Visit mda.org/muscle to learn more about the 2013 MDA telethon.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement. Visit mda.org and follow us at facebook.com/MDAnational and @MDAnews.