MDA telethon raises $60.5 million

Contributions and pledges to the 44th annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon in Las Vegas totaled $60,481,231, organizers said.

The funds raised during the Labor Day weekend’s 21 1/2-hour event will allow the non-profit Muscular Dystrophy Association to continue funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.

Contributions also provide assistance with the purchase of equipment such as wheelchairs and leg braces; send thousands of children to MDA summer camp; and support more than 200 MDA clinics across the country.

Last year’s telethon raised a record $65 million.

These are very special people, and their money comes straight from the heart, MDA National Chairman and telethon star Jerry Lewis said in a statement. Right now, the only thing I can think of to say, other than, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ is ‘Love conquers all.’ So many people, everywhere, even with cares of their own, dug deep to show their wonderful compassion for others who need their help.

Co-hosts of this year’s show included TV’s Jann Carl; Nancy O’Dell, host of Access Hollywood; and Days of Our Lives star and Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney. Also serving as co-hosts, as well as performing, were recording artists Ace Young and Billy Gilman. Tom Bergeron of Dancing with the Stars and Funniest Home Videos appeared in taped segments throughout the broadcast.

The entertainment lineup at the 2009 telethon included Wynonna, Dolly Parton, Tony Orlando, Reba McEntire, Bo Bice, Charo, Train, comedian George Wallace, Lee Greenwood, Joshua Bell, Three Dog Night, Five for Fighting and ventriloquist Terry Fator.

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