For almost half a century, Jerry Lewis dedicated himself to helping find a cure for muscular dystrophy. Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that causes muscle degeneration, weakness, trouble breathing, and sadly, its progressive nature means those symptoms get worse over time. Jerry Lewis wanted to see the suffering caused by MD end – he became the face and voice of the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s annual telethon, spending thousands of hours and helping to raise $2.45 billion for MD research between 1966-2009.
Sadly, Jerry Lewis passed away in 2017, devastating the community he worked so hard to help over the years.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association said in a statement following Lewis’s death, “MDA would not be the organization it is today if it were not for Jerry’s tireless efforts on behalf of ‘his kids.’ His enthusiasm for finding cures for neuromuscular disease was matched only by his unyielding commitment to see the fight through to the end. Jerry’s efforts on the annual MDA Telethon transformed the broadcast into an American tradition each Labor Day weekend for 45 years.”
The telethon, however, must go on. It’s what Jerry Lewis would have wanted – people continuing to use the fundraiser he made famous to raise as much money as possible for the cause he held so close to his heart. The first MDA telethon in six years has a new face (and a much shorter runtime) but was still packed with entertainment. Actor and comedian Kevin Hart stepped up to host the 2020 Muscular Dystrophy Association’s telethon, raising over $10.5 million during the two-hour event.
The October 24 telethon raised money for both the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Kevin Hart’s own Help From The Hart Charity, which provides scholarships to those in underserved communities and helps people struggling with medical needs. The event was star-studded and featured a variety of entertainment from comedy to musical performances.
Guests included Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Usain Bolt, Whitney Cummings, Steph Curry, Adam Devine, Josh Gad, Michael B. Jordan, and more. Though the event itself is over, you can still watch the full telethon – and more importantly, you can still support the cause. Some auctions are still in progress, including a signed Stephen Curry jersey, a Zoom session with Zachary Levi, and several other one-of-a-kind items. If you just want to donate, you can do that here.
“At this point in my life and my career, it’s finding other things to hold on to,” Hart told ABC News. “Entertainment and comedy — it’s been a thing, it’s been what I’m known for, and I’ve pushed hard to be successful at it. If I can match that energy and switch the gears and start to do things for others and bring awareness and a high level of positivity to the world and hopefully bring people together, put smiles on the faces, heal some, do for some, I will feel like I’ve done my job while here.”