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September 2, 2014

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To the MDA, we ask, ‘Whither the total’?

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Mona Shield Payne/Special to The Sun

Jerry Lewis is overcome with joyful tears after receiving a multimillion-dollar check from the International Association of Firefighters during the final hour of the 45th Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon at South Point.

2010 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon

The 2010 Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon at South Point. Ace Young, Nigel Lythgoe and David Archuleta are pictured here. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Jerry Lewis reacts with shock when the tally raises above $53 million Monday afternoon during the final hour of the 45th Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon at the South Point.

For lack of a tote board, an announcement was lost ...

A year ago, the Muscular Dystrophy Association was swift to trumpet the pledged total from its revamped fundraiser, which ran for six hours and employed multiple hosts. The official figure, $61.5 million, was announced the day after the show. It appeared to be an increase from the 2010 show, which announced a pledge total of $58.9 million in what would be Jerry Lewis’ final appearance as host (though TV viewers didn’t realize it at the time).

However, as we found out through a review of the MDA’s tax returns covering that 2011 show, the amount raised was actually about half the announced figure, or $30 million. That’s $18 million less than what was raised in 2010 with a 21 1/2-hour show piloted by Lewis.

We also expect MDA to release the total raised from the 2012 show, held Sept. 2, which was, in effect, a revamping of the revamped show from 2011. It ran for three hours and was taped, originating from Los Angeles, New York and Nashville. But the MDA has not yet made the pledge total from this year’s show public and has not responded to requests to its headquarters in Tucson, Ariz.

As part of the revamping for this year’s show, the famous tote board was edited out of the broadcast. As a result, this is the longest lag between the end of the show and the announced fundraising total in the history of the MDA’s national broadcast, which dates to 1966. The total raised between then and 2011 is nearly $2.5 billion.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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