MDA changes focus to national telethon

Published 08/29 2013 03:36PM

Updated 08/29 2013 03:54PM

 CHAMPAIGN -- For the first time in nearly 50-years, WCIA-3 News won't be part of the MDA Labor Day Telethon. Cynthia Bruno puts that change In Perspective.

"My name is Judy Fraser and this would have been my 37th year of involvement with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the telethon."

It was a good run, but it's one that's come to an end. Instead of a local telethon featuring stories from families in our area dealing with muscular dystrophy, the MDA telethon will appear on the ABC network. It will feature A-list celebrities to help bring in money.

"I know we've been partnering with WCIA for nearly 45-years, if not longer, so it's really sad for us to make these changes, but we're hoping, with the network picking us up and being at the same time all across the board, across the nation, it will increase viewership and we'll be able to raise even more money."

The MDA assures you, the money you donate will stay in Central Illinois. The organization says people at their phone banks look at a caller's area code to make sure the money goes to the right place.

So, the people fighting MDA here, will still feel your generosity. And, what generosity you've shown.

The telethon has gone through many changes over the years. It used to be a 21-and-a-half hour event with the hosts dressed to the nines.

"We would start Sunday night at 8:00 and we would end Monday, Labor Day, at 5 or 6 and it was perhaps the most grueling, exhausting event I've ever been involved with."

But, no matter the changes, one constant was the people involved always cared deeply about the cause.

"I'm Judy Fraser along with Trish Shepherd and newcomer, Robert Reese."

"Robert was just an absolutely wonderful person and his involvement with the kids, especially at camp and all year round was just tremendous."

Judy, who became a champion for people with muscular dystrophy reminds us all that a change in programming doesn't mean a change in the MDA's mission.

"It was done for a reason and it shouldn't deter us from the central cause which is to find a cure for muscular dystrophy, so the people we know and love in Central Illinois will continue to be helped. I'm still a supporter and I love those kids and I love the people I've met over the years. They'll always be like little angels on my shoulder forever."

The MDA says a huge portion of its money comes from other events including Lock-Ups and the Fill the Boot Campaign. This year the local MDA Division, which stretches from the eastern to the western part of the state will raise $1.4 million. It doesn't even include what it hopes to bring in from the telethon.

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