Howdy, howdy! In the United States, this past weekend was Labor Day Weekend. On Sunday, Dad made a baked ziti with a homemade ragù (yes, you should be jealous), and we had an impromptu thing. Some people came over and hung out and we watched part of the UT/Notre Dame game. It was a nice day all around. But Labor Day Weekend wasn’t always just another weekend in this house. It used to be a weekend spent at the ballpark or the race track or wherever the Dallas location of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon was being held. It was a lively, busy weekend surrounded by a bunch of MDA volunteers and local celebrities and all that fun stuff.
I hadn’t participated in the telethon for a few years before it devolved into the “Show of Strength” with the departure of Jerry Lewis, then faded away into nothingness. I don’t know why Mr. Lewis and MDA parted ways. I don’t know why they decided to end the telethon. These things just happen, I guess. But I do know that the money raised over the years helped a lot of people. I know MDA continues to help a lot of people. It’s something I’m grateful for.
I’m also grateful for the memories of those weekends along with all of the other fundraisers I participated in over the years. I got to meet a lot of people I otherwise wouldn’t have. As a kid, all I really cared about was the fact that the caterers usually brought delicious desserts even if the meals weren’t all that tasty. Now, I’m happy that I was a part of helping others like myself. I’m glad that I got to experience the behind the scenes of the telethon, even if it was only at the local level. I was able to observe and learn. It’s not something everyone gets to do.
Knowing that the money went towards research and helping families who couldn’t afford equipment and the like makes it worth it. Even when I was going through that phase where I felt guilty for asking people for money, I at least knew it was helping people. MDA has helped me on numerous occasions, especially when I was a kid and didn’t qualify for Medicaid because Dad made too much money. But, there was no way we could’ve afforded all of my equipment (my chairs and later my breathing machines and all that) without MDA’s help. That’s just part of what MDA does. It’s part of what Jerry Lewis helped raise money for. Without him and his telethon, MDA wouldn’t be where it is today.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is, thank you. Thank you to MDA, to Jerry Lewis, and to everyone behind the scenes. Not only did the telethon raise money for a great cause, but it also provided many of us with wonderful memories and fun stories to tell. I’m sorry that the telethon is gone, but I’m happy to have been a small part of it.