The MDA Show Of Strength Telethon raised over $52 million on Sunday.
“It’s inspiring to see so many celebrities, musical artists and athletes join forces to help in our fight against muscle disease,” said MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks. “We owe them our profound thanks, as we do our national and local sponsor partners, who care so deeply about the children and adults MDA serves. Of course, the encouraging progress we’re seeing in our quest for treatments and cures would not be possible without these sponsors’ as well as America’s generous support.”
Highlights of the annual telethon included 2014 National Goodwill Ambassador Reagan Imhoff of New Berlin, Wis., opening the show alongside Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz. Wentz joined Reagan, 9, on the telethon stage after the band’s performance of their new single “Young Volcanoes,” at the top of the 2014 telethon.
Grammy-winner and reality star LeAnn Rimes closed the show with her single “Give,” honoring MDA’s 60-year partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Additional performances during the nationally broadcast show included: American Authors singing their hit single “Best Day of My Life”; R&B artist Aloe Blacc performing “The Man”; platinum-selling artist Jason Derulo performing his new Gold single “Trumbets” from his album “Talk Dirty”; pop rock sensation R5 singing “(I Can’t) Forget About You”; Grammy-winning trio Rascal Flatts performing “My Wish”; country singer-songwriter Sara Evans performing her hit “A Little Bit Stronger”; folk and rock singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson performing his new single “Kinks Shirt”; and rock and reality star Bret Michaels performing the American classic “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Introductions and appeals came from: Laila Ali; Tom Bergeron; ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser; Jann Carl; Charles Esten; Terry Fator; Kevin Frazier; Josh Groban; Ludacris; Susan Lucci; Ke$ha; Alyssa Milano; Nancy O'Dell; Victor Ortiz; Brad Paisley; Chris Powell; Jordin Sparks; and Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz.
While the telethon has consistently enjoyed robust support from some of the biggest celebrities in show business, MDA says the real stars on the broadcast are the individuals and families served by MDA, including five families who shared their stories and gave the public a glimpse of what it means to live with a muscle disease during the 2014 broadcast.
Bret Michaels took his support backstage during the show taping at the Hollywood Palladium to meet with families served by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which included an exclusive interview with blue carpet correspondent, and MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador, 9-year old Reagan Imhoff of New Berlin, Wis.
The charismatic third-grader left a big impression on Michaels, who was moved to pledge a $10,000 donation to Reagan on the blue carpet to help support MDA’s mission to save and improve lives of children and adults affected by muscle disease.
Michaels, an avid motorcycle enthusiast, also let Reagan charm her way into nabbing a chance-of-a-lifetime motorcycle ride on one of his Harley-Davidson bikes at a later date. Click here to see the adorable blue carpet interview with Reagan and Bret.
“I was really excited when I got asked to participate in the telethon this year because I truly believe in the lifesaving work that MDA does to help kids affected by muscle disease,” Michaels said. “I knew it was going to be a really special experience, but nothing prepared me for the moment I met Reagan. She reminded me of my youngest daughter and my heart melted as soon as she asked me to take her on a motorcycle ride. I would do anything to help these kids who fight courageously every day. I promised her a motorcycle ride and I can’t wait to make good on that promise.”
As part of her role as MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador, Reagan travels throughout the country (along with parents, Jenny and Joe) speaking to groups about MDA’s mission to save and improve the lives of families like hers affected by muscle disease. Reagan has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement.
Michaels’ relationship with MDA began last spring when he performed at the 27th annual Ride for Life in Bethlehem, Pa. and met with 14-year-old MDA Ambassador Bryson Foster. Bryson got the chance to interview the rock icon during a special meet-n-greet, which inspired Michaels to invite Bryson onstage for a special finale performance of classic hit “Nothin’ but a Good Time” later that evening.
Michaels also made good on the #ALSIceBucketChallenge when Bryson, among many others, called out the rocker to take the challenge, which has raised millions for ALS research. Michaels took his challenge in a big way, from his record-breaking concert in Connecticut earlier this month. MDA has been fighting ALS for more than 60 years. The organization invests millions in research and services tied to ALS each year. See Bret’s Ice Bucket Challenge here.