Sept. 2, 2013
/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Musical performances and inspiring family stories were featured prominently on tonight's MDA Show of Strength Telethon. The Muscular Dystrophy Association's telethon aired for two hours on Sunday on ABC television stations nationwide.
11 p.m. Pacific time
, MDA's tote totaled
. Telethon donations will be accepted through midnight on
, when MDA will announce the final total.
For the first time ever, viewers tuning in to the telethon were able to track donations through an online tote board featured on
. The tote consists of generous donations made by the American public through phone, online and texts, and contributions made by national sponsors who help MDA through their own fundraising campaigns leading into the telethon.
"Our heartfelt thanks go to the celebrities and performers who appeared, as well as to our wonderful national and local partners and the MDA families who shared their extraordinary stories of strength," said MDA President and CEO
Steven M. Derks
. "Most of all, we have to thank the American public, whose continuing, generous support has helped MDA arrive at a point when lifesaving treatments for muscle diseases are on the horizon."
Highlights of the 48th annual telethon included multiplatinum group the Backstreet Boys opening the show with a dual performance of their newest single "In A World Like This" and one of the most popular hits of their 20-year career, "I Want It That Way."
Performances during the nationally broadcast show included: teen pop sensation and 2013 MTV Video Music Awards "Artist to Watch" recipient
performing his hit single "What About Love;" platinum-selling country star
performing his summer anthem "Radio" from his new album "True Believers;" "Glee" actor/singer
performing "On the Street Where You Live;" and award-winning country music artists
Lee Ann Womack
performing "I Hope You Dance" and "Country Man," respectively.
Additional star power was provided by
, hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez, "American Idol" runner-up
with the Blue Sky Riders, American blues rock band Vintage Trouble, and Universal recording artist and star from "The Voice"
Additional presenters for the 2013 show included: ABC's Dr.
, "Dancing with the Stars" contestant and "
, Emmy award-winning journalist
, Olympic gold medal gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and
, and No Doubt drummer
and his son,
The telethon saluted its own history by featuring clips of memorable past performances, some fairly recent such as Grammy-nominee Pitbull and his 2012 performance of "Get it Started," and a soulful
medley, reaching as far back as the '70s. Viewers were invited to visit mda.org to vote for their own favorite "Memorable Moments" from telethons past, including several featuring longtime telethon host
In addition to funds contributed by the public, substantial support was provided by MDA's family of national partners, including the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), CITGO Petroleum Corp., The Safeway Foundation, Lowe's, Harley-Davidson, Jiffy Lube, National Association of Letter Carriers, 7-Eleven, 7UP,
& Marketing, Burger King and Tall Cedars of
IAFF, which has been raising funds for MDA since 1954 through community events such as the streetside "Fill the Boot" campaign, amassed a fundraising total of
for this year's telethon.
MDA's mission encompasses dozens of neuromuscular diseases, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy. One segment focused on 11-year-old identical twins
Nolan and Jack Willis
, both of whom are affected by Duchenne MD and are taking part in a promising clinical trial.
The telethon also presented stories on individuals affected by spinal muscular atrophy, including 3-year-old
New Berlin, Wis.
, 28, of
Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Also featured were
, 21, of Oxon Hills, Md., who has facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy; and
, 32, a husband and father from
St. George, Utah
, who is fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
who lost her battle to ALS last October after being featured on the 2012 telethon was paid tribute in a memorial segment.
Another young person affected by Duchenne MD is MDA's National Goodwill Ambassador, 13-year-old
Throughout the telethon, Bryson assisted announcer
in offering "stayed tuned" messages about upcoming performers.
MDA.org and Social Media
Besides making donations and voting on Memorable Moments, viewers were encouraged to check out and share exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the telethon with celebrities and MDA families, view and submit a photo to a special Instagram gallery of "Make a Muscle" photos, and sign on to be a "Muscle Maker" for
a month. MDA social channels included Facebook at
, Twitter at
, Google+ at
, Instagram at
and Pinterest at
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
as its iconic host through 2010, and with help from a legion of top celebrities and entertainers as well as its family of sponsors, has raised millions each year to provide life-enhancing support and services for the families MDA serves.
"Forever Jerry Lewis will be MDA's greatest 'muscle maker,' a true hero in the hearts of millions," Derks said. "We know the best way to honor him and all of the generations of past supporters on whose shoulders we stand today is to work harder and race faster to find new treatments and cures for our families."