Home Celebrity Labor Day Jerry Lewis Telethon Without Comedian: MDA Lost $14 Million Last...

It’s Labor Day weekend so there must be a Labor Day telethon, right? Wrong. There’s a two hour show on Sunday night on ABC, a far cry from Jerry Lewis’s beloved (and often playfully mocked) 21 hour Las Vegas marathons. Lewis was fired after the 2010 telethon (and 50 years with the organization).  The show was reduced to six hours in 2011 and just three in 2012. The tote board is gone, too. No big drum roll to see how many millions have come in for Muscular Dystrophy.

Last year it took MDA until the end of September to declare how much they’d made on Labor Day. The number was $58.7 million. But that’s what was pledged. In their new federal tax filing Form 990, MDA doesn’t list that $58.7 million anywhere. And for the first time they don’t even mention the telethon. They just lump it in with other “special events.”

This is a big change from the prior year. In 2011, the proclaimed they’d raked in $61.5 million without Lewis. But when the tax filing was made public, MDA listed under Revenue-Telethon just $30 million collected.

Roxan Olivas, the pr director for MDA, says in an email: “The amount collected in 2011 was approximately $61.5 million (could be less or more based on redemption and after show donations) and is reported in various sections of the 2011 990, including special events. Your statement about MDA announcing $60 million and collecting $30 million is inaccurate. The totals represent pledges, credit card donations, text message donations and telethon-related sponsor support.”

But that 50% collection rate, considerably down from prior years, is what’s listed on the federal tax filing. That’s all we can go by. The number $61.5 million appears not in one place on the 2011 Form 990.

As for 2012, Olivas says: “the amount we collected in 2012 is $58.7 million and was reported in special events of our 990.”

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Actually, she’s wrong. There’s no listing for $58.7 million or the telethon on the 2012 tax filing. This is what’s under “Special Events”: a total of $116 million in gross receipts for all “special events.”  There’s no specific break-out  for the telethon (aka “MDA Show of Strength”). Of that total, $100 million is listed as “charitable contributions.” Gross income from the “special events” is $15.9 million. Olivas says the $58.7 million is part of that. We’ll have to take her word for it.

MDA, via Olivas, will not release a break down of the 2012 telethon. So if the collection rate remained steady or dropped from 2011 and 2010, there’s no record of it. Given the past history of MDA, the 2012 telethon collection was more likely — and this is only conjecture– around $28 million.

Even worse: For 2012, revenue less expenses came to minus–that’s negative— $14 million. That’s better than 2011’s whopping $19 million dip into red ink, but still much worse than 2010 (-$5 million) or 2009 (-$10 million). Of course none of these figures compare with the whopping $42 million loss MDA took in 2008 over bad investments. They wound up cutting their wheelchair program.

Since MDA tossed Jerry Lewis and shrunk the show, the numbers have been going down.  In 2009, MDA claimed $60 mil but collected only $45 mil. In 2010, Lewis’s last year, they claimed $58 million and collected $48 million. were even lower.

Overall donations to MDA are down, too. Total contributions and grants — including whatever money came in from the telethons– fell from $158 mil in 2011 to $149.5 mil in 2012.

There’ s no doubt that MDA still does a lot of good. They still give a sizeable amount away every year– in 2012, MDA distributed $47 million in grants– about $12 million in aid, and $34 million in research. That’s still a lot of money. But it’s much less, say, than when Lewis was there. In 2008, MDA gave away over $61.6 million. In 2009, in the thick of the recession, the number was $53.5 million.

Little by little everything is falling– income, revenue, grants. The only thing that gets better at MDA is salaries.

In 2012, they finally replaced Gerald Weinberg, the long time president, who was making over $400,000. (In 2012, Weinberg still managed to pick up $148k in salary from MDA.)

The new guy, Stephen Derks, comes from the Illinois branch of the American Cancer Society. Derks’ salary, according to the MDA 2012 form 990 was a measly $17,000. His actual annual compensation isn’t listed. But Derks was making $367,000 with ACS. It’s unlikely he took a pay cut.  Olivas did not answer the question of how much Derks signed on for.

The rest of the MDA hierarchy is well paid, all six figures, with exec VP Valerie Cwik coming in at just under $300,000. Indeed, even with revenue falling, there are still no fewer than eleven executives– not counting Derks– pulling six figures incomes.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
71 replies to this post
  1. As a thirty year volunteer and past president of the Suffolk County MDA chapter, I am absolutely devastated over the cruel way they not only terminated Jerry Lewis but cut out long time devoted people and patients without warning.
    This cold hearted organization simply closed the doors on our chapter. Fellow volunteers showed up for a meeting one day to find the desks were gone and offices emptied.
    People who had come together year after year working the telethon from our local center, who were raising children with this dread disease and who had formed deep friendships were thrown out on the street and told to go to another county. When two volunteers showed up at the neighboring county, they were told they were not needed.
    I too lost a child from Duchenne MD (read Yo God Jay’s Story on Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Tower) and my son served as a local ‘ambassador’ for fundraising events where you could feel the love.
    In the beginning, MDA funded all PT sessions (weekly). They supplied equipment and paid for motorized wheelchairs in the amounts not covered by insurance,as well as clinic visits. But each year, these benefits were reduced and focus redirected to research. We can only wonder about the progress in that area.
    I do continue to donate a few bucks every year, but before I send another penny in after reading this article and the above testimony, I think we need a serious investigation

  2. Dr Joel Wallach gave Jerry the information that there has been a cure for MD &MS for 40 years now. Jerry took it to the MDA who promptly fired Jerry and all his staff.

    As usual, follow the money is the Ochams Razor here. Cash cows are hard to come by and worth keeping.

  3. OBAMACARE is the cause for the mda to be dismantled. They want the people that suffer from this horrible disease to count on government!!! See the plain path to depend on gov more and more social healthcare that doesn’t really care for anyone.

  4. M Pierson
    9/5/13 2:36pm
    “Have no respect for MDA after letting Jerry go. Will no longer give them any support. They should be ashamed. Dick Clark would also be ashamed to know that his son is at the helm of this new era of MDA changes. Sad, sad, sad.”

    The “support” (money) is what the telethon is about so “Jerry’s Kids” (of all ages) have hope for a future without this devastating disease, hope for help if not a total cure. If your “support” only went for your entertainment or the fact Jerry was there then you gave for the wrong reason(s). Jerry’s birthday is 6 days after mine (a little older -grin) but when he passes he wouldn’t be there anyway…..would you still give so kids may live then? If there is a cure to be found it will be found by scientists that need to be compensated because for what ever reason “God” has not seen fit to cure MD in ‘His’ infinite wisdom – so give and keep giving….I miss Jerry as well (he’s my favorite comic-actor) and I too was saddened to see what ‘they’ had done to “HIS” telethon. Miss Jerry? Netflix, xFinity on demand has many Jerry Lewis movies. (“Visit To A Small Planet” is in the top 3 Lewis movies)

  5. So – Jerry Lewis didn’t want to give up control of the telethon – why should he? He was the one who made it what it was – from the very beginning – the first telethon that I worked – sitting in the Warwick Hotel – while Jerry toiled away for 21 hours at the Zigfield Theatre across the street – and all those years – raising more and more money – and these jerks come in and tell him you do it our way or else – I would have done the same thing – walked! Now it’s MDA that is paying the price for their stupidity – Mr. Lewis knows what he accomplished in all those years and should be proud – those idiots running MDA have succeeded in ruining it. Too bad for those “kids” and adults who need it.

  6. Have no respect for MDA after letting Jerry go. Will no longer give them any support. They should be ashamed. Dick Clark would also be ashamed to know that his son is at the helm of this new era of MDA changes. Sad, sad, sad.

  7. Jerry is old school indeed. Class Act-connected-someone I looked forward to watching every single year, year after year. The fact that this organization has done this is indeed cutting it’s own throat and ruining its once stellar reputation. I know at the local level we rarely host events any longer as there is little to no trust in the MDA organization. I realize Jerry cannot head this up forever but to treat him in this manner is truly unforgivable. No money from me, don’t even watch, and it is sad to see. Would like to see an apology headed his way publicly…and perhaps these people will one day get their cure…he gave us hope-even if Vegas Style.

  8. It hurt not seeing Jerry and his kids on Labor day that what MDA is special because Jerry care about all the kids. then you saw a smile on a child face
    because of Jerry he always there for his kids ,that why MDA is special in many way. but without Jerry it not the same.

  9. Tears fall as I read the comments and write my own. We miss Jerry, and the caliber of the show he and MDA of the past put on. Labor day is boring without the anticipation and hooplah that surrounded the Labor Day telethon. It was like the Thanksgiving and Christmas parade we looked forward to every year, the tradition that we knew was worth taking time out to see. The star power, the energy, the love, the laughs, the tears and the passion to exceed last years totals made us want to call in. I watched this year and last, and was thinking “is this all there is?” We know its not about the stars or the hype, its about the children. But, getting our attention takes the stars, the energy, the surprises, the laughter, the special feeling you got when watching that show. Jerry brought love, sincerity, and passion. His “realness” came through always. He made you want to call and pledge. Please bring back the “special-ness” that made that show special. Make us want to watch and call again. If you cant bring Jerry back then please at least honor him in the show, and get a worthy replacement that will step into his shoes as we know he is aging and cant do it anymore. We know there’s never gonna be another Jerry, but there’s got to be another out there, who, if they have the passion and the heart, can carry on in the manner that Jerry did.

  10. Jerry Lewis was the brand of MDA. Taking the brand away, took away the icon that Americans grew up with. The decision to dissect Jerry out of MDA, was a WRONG decision probably forced by inept leaders. These past two years, was not a check, or cash to MDA from my family. Not that we want to see the children or adults stricken down to suffer but a decision that made to remove Lewis would be like eliminating Danny Thomas from the St. Jude’s Hospital cause; but those who made the decision can do the rest. Did Jerry do something that was inappropriate? His age made him more salty, and repetitive, but that is what people adored about him. Once again, an OLD person looks like they can’t function, but that is where many are wrong. A lot of money goes to salaries of non-profits, these groups seem to be just a scam at times, no better then the Wall-Street criminals. The telethon proved nothing more then it has gone out to pasture with just a couple hours of coverage, and I am afraid so has the MDA cause!

  11. I can only wonder “If ever” people are going to figure out that “suffering” is a big business and a lot of “scum bags” out there profit handsomely from it. Folks; if you really want to help someone, do it directly and bypass any and all organized charitable organizations. Otherwise you’re just contributing to the expensive lifestyles of the greedy opportunists who run these operations.

  12. So disappointed that there was not any word before about no telethon this year. I can’t believe you would leave the public with no explantion before the show was to start. I checked all stations all night and found nothing. You owe the nation a good reason to not help jerry’s kids.

  13. Some dumb decisions were made to take Jerry Lewis’s name off the Telethon. It was always JERRY’S KIDS and that is what myself, and generations before me donated to. I admit Jerry was getting a little salty, but to completely rip away his brand from the telethon, was just WRONG! Jerry Lewis made you feel you could trust him and that the money would be watched from him an advocate, like Danny Thomas and St. Jude’s Hospital. These past two years, I don’t give to the telethon nor will in the future until some changes of format to the MDA are restored. Put Jerry Lewis back into the picture. Some of these ‘non-profits’ are really such a scam, and I think MDA could be one now, or down the road. Jerry Lewis, should pull up his boot straps, and commit to a new cause like, “American Job-less athon”. Well down the tubes for MDA, and sad for the children and adults who have to be poster children for a never ending money making “non-profit” machine like MDA telethon is or I mean to say, WAS!

  14. My friends and all my family members are no longer donating to this ungrateful organization. We gave thousands in the past… but no more. Whaty a bunch of greedy people working there who don’t deserve the large donations we always gave to Jerry. All these years and still no cure for this terrible disease ? Too much of my money must have been going into the pockets of the wrong people there. The annual MDA Telethon….was what it was because of Jerry, but the orgasnization is just too stupid to not realize that. Without him…..it’s never going to be the same and it’ll never raise the amount of money he raised for them. I’m going to giver my $25,000 check to another cause.

  15. My 4-year old son was recently diagnosed with Duchenne MD. Since then, I have dealt first-hand with the MDA and done quite a bit of research into the organization.

    At first, I was quite impressed. The regional representative was at the clinic when the doctors broke the diagnosis to us and spoke with us about ways MDA could help. But when I tried to follow-up with him on some forms, and I didn’t receive a response. After reading some reviews written by former employees, it is pretty clear that the regional staff are overwhelmed with fundraising duties. For an employee of the organization, fundraising is the only thing that really matters in terms of keeping your job and advancing. The turnover at the organization is absurdly high with the extreme emphasis on meeting (increasingly unrealistic) fundraising goals, and the failure to meet the goals is evidently grounds for immediate termination. This naturally cuts into the aid that the MDA workers can provide to families. I get that the district worker is being forced to do more with less, and I don’t blame them personally in any way for not getting back to me and being kind of distant.

    The MDA Clinic is great, but it really boils down to a group of specialists meeting with MD patients at a set date and time. Private Insurance or Medicaid foots the bill, not the MDA. Initially, I was led to believe that our son would get help from the MDA for a motorized chair when the need arose. However, it now looks as though that program has been cut and/or cancelled, and that, in any event, private insurance or Medicaid would have paid anyway, not the MDA. In terms of actual aid for families, I think all that is left is the summer camps. The camps sound great, and we are excited to send our son once he is old enough. But really, how much money does it cost to run a week-long camp staffed with volunteers? A fair amount, I’m sure, but not a quarter of a billion dollars.

    As far as I can tell, that leaves research grants. I’m sure they have and will continue to fund great research into the constellation of muscle diseases.

    But I’m disconcerted about what I have heard. The six-figure salaries for the execs is probably just the tip of the iceberg of their total compensation once all of the miscellaneous perks are factored in. There is something about the numbers that just seems off. At Charity Navigator, the MDA (barely) clocks in at 2 stars out of 4, 0 being an outright fraud and 4 being a good, well-managed charity. Even Susan G. Komen for the Cure got 4 out of 4 stars, with all of the problems they have had in the media lately. The MDA needs to do much better with financial transparency.

    At the end of the day, the MDA is operating under an organizational structure that was put in place back when the fundraising engine was firing like crazy in the 70’s (I had never even heard of the MDA telethon until a few weeks ago), and it is laboring terribly attempting to maintain the structure with the diminishing (but still considerable) numbers that are coming in. To me, the biggest drain is the massive national organization based on Tuscon. I think that they could dramatically reduce the size of that national HQ, or even eliminate it altogether, and little would be lost. If they could find a way to streamline their operation while at the same time empower their field-level workers, and get back to a place where the focus is primarily on helping kids and adults with MD and not solely about bringing in the money, things would improve greatly.

    I’m not holding out too much hope though. All of the power is based in the national level of the MDA, and they have feathered their nest quite nicely. They’re not going to jeopardize that.

  16. What in all that is good is happening to our world!!! Things are just coming apart all over. Jerry
    Lewis spent his life unselfishly helping children and he’s been fired, replaced, with what? A two
    hour lame broadcast. Shame on the people responsible for this decision. Our country has
    changed for the worst. It is very sad for all of us. God Bless you Jerry for all you’ve done in
    the past 50 years, sorry it’s over.

  17. I volunteered for years to work the local broadcast of the telethon and raised money in the corp I worked for. It was a pleasure doing it for Jerry, not the morons in the glass castle. No more didn’t even tune in last night, and have not given money since Jerry’s departure. Way to screw yourself MDA.

  18. my grandson lives with duschand muscular dystrophy and every day i hope and pray for a cure. These children deserves someone like Jerry Lewis who had strength, dedication and a big heart to do what he did every year for these children. They deserve to be heard and to show their strength even though they live with this disease and Jerry Lewis dedicated himself for these children to be heard and show how great they are. I hope there is someone out there with the same huge heart that can find some kind of cure for these children who deserve everything in life because of all the money that has been raised and still being raised there needs to be some kind of progress out there. And to Jerry Lewis i think your a wonderful man who struggled every year to make a difference i thank you for all those years

  19. we don,t need it on tv for 24 hours anymore it gets borning . watch it on the websit . it,s never going too end and money today is tough . we need our money for food, bills, gas, plus there is a better one st. jude for kids

  20. The MDA is a money hungry behemoth of a corporation. They have never helped my family whatsoever. They only show the stronger kids who are more marketable in their money making scheme. Here is the simplest way to put it. They represent 600 neuromuscular diseases and have raised billions and billions of dollars over the years. With all that money they have never cured a single disease. My only suggestion to the general public is if you find it in your heart to donate to children’s diseases don’t fall for the expensive marketing schemes. Fund a 100% volunteer non-profit preferably run by parents in the disease. Then you can be certain they are doing it for the right reason and the money will go to where it is needed most. It is usually a parent who finds a way to get a cure for diseases. It will never be one of these salary top heavy organizations EVER!

  21. I have been involved off and on one way or another since 1970! I would sometimes work (volunteer) the entire duration of the telethon, on the phones, getting water, food or whatever for the different entertainers that would be here locally (back then they were not ALL with Jerry). :) sometimes grueling, but it was always about the cause…not the “lights and names” we would be at one of the hotels with the “phone banks, etc.) I was every bit of 14 when I started with permission from my mother. As I grew so did my responsibilities. I was not able to make large donations but I would do what I could if it was only $1.00, so I made up for it with volunteering, and the people I was around made it fun. when local channels would cut back to Jerry, we still had our things going on but getting to watch his feed was always hilarious. Jerry always gave his all plus more especially if that “tote board” was not going the way he wanted in the time he wanted…he would give one more joke, one more plea….one more of whatever had to be done for “his kids” to get the job done. over the last couple years, I had my own personal struggles and thought it was my imagination that the hours seemed to be getting shorter. Again because of my struggles now…I did not realize that Jerry was fired last year(?)!!!!! this does not reflect on Mr. Lewis, as him and his God knows what he has done for this wonderful cause, however to the ones that DID feel his dismissal was needed…I hope that they never get in the position of needing the services of the MDA!!! Oh, that’s right, they had big enough salaries that they should not need to do anything but open their checkbook and pay on the spot for what their children would need from MDA….and no, this is not a wish that they would have to need this, just hope that they thought ahead in every direction before they did what they did. Sorry, my comment was not meant to be this long, and I guess I could have just said….Jerry Lewis was the best thing that ever happened to the MDA, and it is the end of an era in many ways.

  22. Another Labor Day, another year without Jerry Lewis. I haven’t watched the “show” since MDA gave him the boot. It seems pointless to invest my time in something that isn’t even a live broadcast. I find it odd though that each year since Jerry has been gone, MDA needs to find a way to somehow get his name out there, especially when their “show” is getting close to airing. Sadly, this situation is only going to get worse with lack of viewership and lack of donations. Labor Day weekend and the end of summer will never be the same. Thanks for the memories Jerry, you are missed.

  23. Jerry Lewis was, is the best thing that ever happened to fund raising for MDA. He selflessly spent 50 years of his life raising money for those kids. Labor Day weekend is not the same without the telethon and Jerry there trying to raise money for those less fortunate than himself. Without Jerry the fund raising is nowhere close to where it used to be.

    The heart and soul that breathed life into the cause and put it on the map has been disrespectfully silenced. We miss you Jerry and we miss your showmanship and talent for raising money. God Bless you Jerry, and everything you have done over the years for your kids. In our estimation, you are a saint . . . . .

  24. Perhaps its time to move onto other labor day traditions. If MD has not been cured or the treatments making it much more livable after all that money, then what’s the point?
    Bless Jerry for what the tried to do.

  25. I remember as a kid watching it till all hours on labor. Its sad to see Jerry gone from it. I dont think he would go back after what they did to him. I remember all the great entertainers would do the show. Sad to see it gone not the same at all.

  26. The old telethon spent a lot of time giving credit to the people who raised the money. the large with Jerry ,the small in the local segments. I know people who work hard to raise small amounts and were able to give there checks on TV. Jerry made it a point to thank as many fund raiser as possible. He understood it’s the money came from the average little guy.

  27. I used to volunteer every year to work the telethon. Back then MDA was like 1 huge family. The adults were assisted with wheelchairs and van modifications as well as children. Even the adults were considered Jerry’s Kids! Later MDA took funding away from adults and they were on their own to obtain the things that helped them to function. I continued to volunteer until I was unable to but continued to watch the telethon and give when I could afford to. When they got rid of Jerry I watched the telethon that first time but have never turned it on or donated to the cause. I have lost numerous friends who have lost their battle with various neuromuscular disease and when Jerry was let go I felt like I lost another friend. I watched a few minutes of the show of strength last night and thought how sad it was that something that was so grand at one time was reduced to an old recording of Sammy Davis, Jr. It will never be the same and I will never watch it again much less volunteer. RIP MDA TELETHON RIP!

  28. Very, very disappointed in the whole thing. Jerry was the “man”!! Not even very entertaining. It was like a “B” rated movie!! No Jerry Lewis MD Telethon….no donations! You people simply screwed-up and your going to feel it more and more. Jerry had an awesome show and it was something you waited to see, come Labor Day weekend. I and many others I know, won’t be watching any longer!

  29. bittersweet is an understatement in describing how jerry lewis must be feeling after this latest edition of the post-lewis annual event..i too grew up watching mr. lewis, and i am also disgusted with all that has transpired since his exit..he must be chuckling if only a little at what his creation has become in a few short years..imagine a national event going from a 20 hour “love-in” to a 2 hour self-promotion of the network..mr. lewis..thank-you for all you have done, and continue to do..i am currently watching a jerry lewis marathon on antenna tv..love the old movies you starred in..you have a great heart sir, and i hope you still do all you can to support “your kids”…after all…it’s not ther fault that you aren’t leading the fight as you have done for many many years..god bless you sir, and i hope you continue to have improving health..thank-you

  30. The executives of this organization may not really care about the work or the amount of profits being made. They will pocket whatever money is there, like their 400,000 dollar salaries, and let the organization auger in. That’s what corporate raiders do.

  31. Yes, Jerry Lewis “controlled” the telethon, but he EARNED it with all his years of dedication to the kids and the cause. The decision to oust him was an outrage. I wonder how old some of those decision makers were when Jerry did his first telethon, or if they were even born yet. Sadly, the only ones that get hurt are the kids. Despite all of this, please continue to find other ways to support the children and don’t turn your back on THEM just because Jerry is gone.

  32. We need a new organization in place to have a way to get funding into the correct hands for MD. Mr.Lewis got the cause publicized around the world. It is really sad to see the damage a handful of greedy execs have done. They do not have the power to damage the tremendous respect we have for Mr. Lewis, but they have accomplished destroying a reputable means of channeling funds to a very good cause. Sadly, building a new organization will also require time to build a trusted reputation. Much money will be missed in the mean time.

  33. i used to watch the mda/jerrylewis telethon, ever since i was a little kid, staying up all hours of the night hoping to see some of my favorites and i did!!! even John and yoko was on! what they did to an icon was a mean rotten dirty trick, no wonder they are not raking in the bucks! also look at the sad state of usa people out of work ect.

  34. I watched it last night …and thought not the same at all since jerry isn,t there bring him back. don,t let these families suffer because of control. jerry made it money. u r going to loose the big ones soon ….what the heck.

  35. The Telethon was something that most people looked forward to. Labor is/was a holiday I looked forward to with mixed feelings. It is sad to see the summer go, but we always had an amazing cookout at my aunt’s, and the Telethon was always on in the background. I always looked forward to the cheesy locally produced 15 minute segments every hour just to see the local hosts, some of whom were friends of mine. Now, not only are the labor Day cookouts gone, the Telethon is also gone. I don’t know that much about Jerry, but there is no getting around the fact that he gave his heart and soul to the MDA, and they stabbed him in the back,

    Even if the MDA were to ask him back, I wonder if he’d go back. Maybe he would do i for the kids, maybe his ego wouldn’t let him. Only Jerry knows the answer. But the bottom line is I will not watch any version of the Telethon until Jerry comes back.

  36. Now it seems the non-telethon is run by illiterate ……., their failing , what a boost it would be for them if they put together A fall super special 2013 and bring Jerry back . What a dumb decision to have Jerry not a part of MDA

  37. This is absolutely common for what they did to Jerry, he spent every Labor Day to support his kids, for who he raised money for year around. This man was heaven sent, and he did not no where near deserve to be treated the way he has been treated, and now needless to say, I’m sure he is heart broken, and yet the ones that will will suffer, are Jerry’s Kids, and their families. How common can they be, to disrespect Jerry, and his kids, may the Lord Bless you, and I thank you for all of the TIME,, and EXTREMELY HARD WORK, and the HEART, and LOVE you put into all these families, to make sure they had what they need, to have a comfortable life, Jerry, the Lord will take great care of you, as you have taken great care of others. You have touched many lives, and we are so great full for everything you have done. God Bless you, and your family, we will miss you, and please take care of yourself. You are a very special, gifted soul, and no one will ever fill your shoes. My trust in donating to the telethon has now vanished, cause without you, there is no trust. As of this year 2013, my telethon donations are done, the telethon will never receive another donation from me, when you return, than so will my donations, until than, I truly love you Jerry, God Bless You. Love Always The Viens family

  38. Kids and Adults with Muscular Dystrophy still need help. Without Jerry Lewis the money is starting to decline. Sad and we need Jerry Lewis back !!

  39. I never saw a 990 filing that allowed $3 million to be reported in such general terms as “research”. Maybe the IRS needs to take a second look at MDA’s returns. And, for those folks looking for Jerry’s salary to compare to the folks there now – he never took one. I’m sure he had expenses, but I’d be willing to bet they were w-a-y below the $300K mark of their current lowest paid exec. It was very sad to see a lousy two hour show tonight. Jerry was/is a showman and his skill as such is what put MDA on the map of medical fundraising. Look at all the other telethons who have followed his example successfully. I hope Mr. Lewis is healthy and comforted by the billion dollars he raised for MDA sufferers. We used to see him around San Diego occasionally, but not for several years now. God will bless and welcome him when he passes and joins so many of his “kids” who didn’t live long enough to see the wonderful advances his fundraising supported.

  40. What a horrible production and waste of air time. I had the privilege of working for MDA and participating in the local broadcast before the self-serving money mongrels took over. The love, sweat and tears donated to the telethon when Jerry Lewis ran the ship were those of dedicated people who put in countless hours (without pay) to make sure a cure would be found for the horrible diseases that the MDA researches and finds cures.

    I dare say that not one of the executives with such outrageous salaries would be willing to take a 30% cut and donate it directly to any of the numerous research facilities. MDA is, according to the IRS, non-profit and provides marvelous opportunities if the patient is fortunate enough to register at an office with knowledgeable staff. Rather than not donate, a list of research facilities can be obtained from MDA and your donation can be made directly to them or to the actual named disease, ie ALS, organization.

    Bottom line -MDA needs Jerry Lewis and in spite of his age and failing health, he would never turn his back on those who have no other place to go for help. Unless you have worked for the organization or benefited from their programs, do not for one minute think that donations are not needed. What is needed is an internal house cleaning.


  41. i think they screwed the pooch…junped the shark when they, got rid of jerry!! he was the face of mda & a tradition for me…i don’t remember a labor day without him!!! i grew up with him! yea he looked like he could b hard 2 work with…but u r forgetting the money he brought & the passion 4 those kids was undeniable! 14mil…really…who’s the dummy that made that decision! labor day will never b the same…neither will the mda…do y really want to put “urselves out of business”…i think not! dummies!

  42. I think that when something isn’t working that you fix it.. After reading the information here it seems that some people aren’t being held accountable for where the money is going. MDA should be about helping those in need and research. If the people involved now aren’t getting the job done…..well Jerry got fired!!!!!!

  43. We gave my sister to Muscular Dystrophy. She died of ALS 5 years ago…. after a 10 year battle. MDA was good to her. She needed a big expensive wheelchair, and MDA paid for that. MDA also provided computer stuff so she could continue to communicate after she lost her voice. I felt very grateful and obliged to MDA. But after they let Jerry go…. well, that sucked bigtime…. We were annual supporters of the Telethon BEFORE my sister got ALS. But we’re done now. They can take their 2 hour show and shove it….

  44. This is a great cause and I enjoyed all the years that Jerry was the host. I am sad to see that the numbers haven’t added up. This organization has turned into just another “corporation” that seems to be run with bad politics and is forgetting about the kids and the adults alike with muscular diseases. I am looking to see if there are other organizations that support their cause. I agree that no exec in this organization should receive a dime. I should all be volunteer.

  45. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    It doesn’t matter how Mr. Jerry Lewis is, isn’t, what he does or doesn’t do, or how germain he is, or isn’t, or popular, or how old he is…
    The facts are that he raised over 1 billion dollars for this organization, that kept the MDA on the map, made it pertinent, and guaranteed it’s existence in perpetuatity.
    They should put Mr. Lewis on a throne, either in the audience, and at times in stage, and just honor him, and pay homage to him, as long as he’s alive.
    Whatever he cost them, it cost them allot more by not having Mr. Lewis there.
    The MDA losts hundred’s of million of dollars, since they just dumped Mr. Lewis in a ditch, and tried to erase his memory.
    Well, there are millions of people, around the world whose memory you can’t erase, and the hundreds of millions you lose, every two years, till the new generation that doesn’t know Mr. Lewis comes of age, is staggering, and sad, for the help that thousands of MDA kids, and Adults w/ be out of…
    I guess all the young people w/ the degrees from Harvard, Yale, etc., not only don’t hasve a clue on how to put on a show, but they can’t even do simple Arithmmetic..

  46. What is wrong with with this world. Jerry Lewis started the telethon and put all of sweat and tears into raising money for his kids,the MDA kids, and they decide to remove him from the telethon,. It just doesn:t make sense, Time to rethink your actions,

  47. What a shame the Jerry is not there. Always looked forward to seeing him. When I read about the salaries these people make I want to scream. I want my donation to go the kids and adults who have MD, not to make these people rich…..

  48. I think these poor kids…”jerry’s kids” are shit out of luck…now that the MDA GREED has taken over. I would not give one penny to these idiots! And obviously 14 million people feel that same way. They need to get down on their knees and BEG JERRY LEWIS to come back to HIS telethon and do it FOR the children….just as Jerry did for the biggest part of his life. I don’t give to anything. BUT I gave to Jerry’s kids… because I knew like everyone else the kids would get the money. The MDA is a joke and those running it are a bigger joke!

  49. Since Jerry Lewis is No longer part of this it’s so SAD because Jerry was always there for the Kids it wasn’t about anything else… No Matter what Jerry Lewis was doing when it came to this Telethon He always made the time for the Kids… It’s just to bad the Higher Ups can’t see that… They should all be Fired because I’m sure that Most of the Money that is raised it not going where it should be now!!! Maybe there should be an Audit on them!!!!

  50. This is wrong Non profit organzaiton should not have peeps makeing over 250k a year at least and I really think that is even to much but I do know it is hard work but without jerry the love of it seems to have gone to just pity

  51. Jerry was ousted because the MDA wanted control of the show. Jerry pretty much completely owned the telethon and the MDA hated the fact that he effectively controlled their largest funding source. They told Jerry that they were taking control and asked him to stay on in a diminshef role. He said screw you, either it’s my show or it’s not my show. They wouldn’t even let him do a live goodbye appearance. They insisted on a pre-taped segment, so Jerry just walked away…

    All the MDA needed to do was to sit back and accept the money Jerry brought in for them. But no, they wanted the power too. Stupid. I’ve followed the telethon since it started. I raised money in my community for Jerry’s Kids. I stayed up with Jerry all night, sleeping on and off on the floor in front of the TV. The Jerry Lewis Telethon was a major part of my childhood…

    Thanks for killing that, MDA…

  52. What on earth is a 2 hour show going to accomplish? After all the years Jerry put in and all the money he helped raise, the MDA should be ashamed of themselves for firing him. How could they do that to him and all those poor kids who need that money to continue coming in? Absolutely disgraceful.

  53. Great fundraising cause and great performances throughout the years. The on-air reunion between Lewis and Dean Martin in ’76 was memorable.

  54. I have Myotonic Dystrophy and the MDA has never helped me except to officially diagnose me. They treat everyone like dirt except for the camps which is fine with me. Guess I shouldn’t complain since I still can barely walk at 43. What happens when I do finally end up in the wheelchair? The MDA won’t be there for sure. I wish all the parents many blessings for children whose lives are destroyed quickly from a disease that will never be cured. Cheers.

  55. Jerry Lewis was the MDA. Without him the organization, which pays its President close to 1/2 a Million dollars a year is doomed. So sad for the kids!

  56. With Jerry it was all about the kids and for the kids. I’ve been reading a lot on negative things about MDA this is just another one. They will NOT get another dime from me, and haven’t since Jerry has been gone. We love you Jerry for who you are what your are, and what you have become. An Icon that will live forever.

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