This is the post where I ask you for money.
Good news is, it’s not for me.
Bad news is, the people it’s for are dying…and you probably know one of them.
Every year, I watch and enjoy the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. I started watching it because—let’s face it—it’s one of the worst productions on TV. For something that brings in so much money, you can tell they don’t spend it on production value. Even the “high-profile” (sic) guests they have on often phone it in. As my brother said to me the other day, “Every time one of the comedians comes out, I know exactly what jokes they’re going to do in advance.” (Or some such variant…I didn’t write it down…but he was right.) It’s like watching Ed Wood with a social conscience (except Ed Wood movies often were not as scary as some of the telethon guests). I used to turn it on and get a few cheap laughs—sometimes from the jokes, but more often from Jerry Lewis just plain no longer caring what he says on live, national television. (Seriously, last year, he said of his stage-runner, while holding up his hands creating a space roughly softball sized, “She has a tattoo of a swastika that big on her ass!” Gold.)
Then something weird happened a few years ago. I started to care.
Here’s the thing… Muscular diseases can strike anyone at any time, regardless of if such diseases run in your family or not. You could be healthy one day, and the next, you’re headed for a wheelchair. And nothing you did caused it.
But the telethon focuses on something far sadder. The telethon focuses on the fact that too, too many people suffering from muscular diseases are children. Many of them will never see their teen years.
That’s extra sad.
Look…I’m not big on kids. I like my nieces and nephew just fine…but that’s pretty much where it stops. For the most part, if someone’s under ten, I’m like, “Grow some hormones, dork!” But knowing that there are kids out there who will never grow up, never fall in love, and never get to be cool (with all due apologies to Neil Young) breaks my heart. I don’t know why. Maybe those are just dimensions of myself I’ve never explored… But seriously. That sucks. The world shouldn’t be that way…and for the yearly accumulated change you have in your couch, we might be able to fix it.
You don’t have to send a huge gift. You don’t have to send a kid to camp (though I’ve always wanted to). You don’t have to do a pledge drive at your office. Just…when you see the firemen asking for money with the “fill the boot” campaign, drop in a few coins from the “coin hole” you’ve got in your car (mine is right next to the driver’s side window for some reason…yours might be a cup-holder or handle-slot thingy in your door). Or if you’re in 7/11, drop your change in the “Jerry’s Jar” on the counter. Or, if you’re so moved, call in a pledge. They’re happy with $1, or less. They even tell you that.
Mostly…here’s what I’m asking… Turn on the Telethon over Labor Day weekend. Watch it for a little while. Shake your head, like all of us do, and mutter “why are THEY on TV and I’m stuck in [insert your town’s name here]?” But hang around long enough to hear some of the personal stories. Listen to the parents fight back the tears of knowing they WILL outlive their children. Listen to the adults who are impacted by these diseases late in life, who can no longer control limbs or emotions (that was one last year…a guy no longer had control of his emotions…all he could do was cry). Listen to how far we’ve come since the Telethon started and how CLOSE we are now.
And if something breaks your heart, make a pledge. Let’s cure this stuff in Jerry’s lifetime.
Thanks. I’ll return to inanity after the weekend.
Here’s the link where you can donate, if you want to. (Also, the MDA page is in my “blogroll” over to the right all year long, if you’re short on cash right now.)