Monday, Sept. 7, 2009 | 9:26 p.m.
- The Kats Report: Jerry Lewis’ poignant ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ closes $60 million telethon (9-7-09)
- The Kats Report: Lewis the ringleader, still, as MDA Telethon rolls on at South Point (9-7-09)
- The Kats Report: Keeping pace with the Vegas holiday weekend is a labor of love (9-4-09)
The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon raised nearly $60.5 million from this year's Labor Day event.
The 44th annual event brought in about $5 million less than last year. Lewis, the Muscular Dystrophy Association national chairman, said the amount raised was impressive despite a tough national economy.
"These are very special people, and their money comes straight from the heart," Lewis said. "Right now, the only thing I can think of to say, other than thank you, thank you is, 'love conquers all.' So many people, everywhere, even with cares of their own, dug deep to show their wonderful compassion for others who need their help."
This was the fourth consecutive year the show has originated from the South Point Hotel and Casino.
The 21 1/2-hour event reached nearly 40 million viewers on 180 TV stations (broadcast locally on KTNV Channel 13). Co-hosts included TV's Jann Carl; Nancy O'Dell, host of "Access Hollywood;" and Alison Sweeney, of "Days of Our Lives" and host of television's "Biggest Loser."
Also co-hosting and performing were musicians Ace Young and Billy Gilman. Tom Bergeron of "Dancing with the Stars" and "Funniest Home Videos" appeared in taped segments. Entertainers included Wynonna, Dolly Parton, Tony Orlando, Reba McEntire, Bo Bice, Charo, Train, comedian George Wallace, Lee Greenwood, Joshua Bell, Three Dog Night, Five for Fighting and Terry Fator.
The money raised will allow the MDA to keep funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and related diseases. Contributions also provide assistance with the purchase of equipment such as wheelchairs, send thousands of children to MDA summer camp and support more than 200 MDA clinics across the country.
This year's show was the first since 1973 not to feature Ed McMahon as emcee for the characteristically Vegas-rich showcase. McMahon’s widow, Pam, looked on from the audience as a nine-minute tribute film was played for the national audience.
The event was moved back to Las Vegas from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2006. This year is only the fourth time (1982, 2004 and 2005) the telethon raised less than the prior year.
Located South of the Strip, South Point is a hot spot frequented by locals. The hotel-casino is decorated in a Pacific Coast feel, with golds, reds and browns, mixing an island feel with the ambiance of Southern California.
Guests rooms feature 42-inch flat screen TVs, iPod docking stations and plush linens. Outside, the property features landscaped gardens, a hospitality to entertain poolside and a sand volleyball court.
When it comes to gaming, the South Point has more than 120,000 square feet of casino games, as well as a separate race books and sports books, a bingo and poker room. South Point also has some family friendly features, like a 64-lane bowling center, an arcade and a 16-screen movie theater.
Dining options range from an upscale meal at Michael's Gourmet to ice cream at Kate's Korner. The 24-hour Coronado Cafe is the perfect spot for a late-night craving, which include six midnight to 6 a.m. "graveyard" specials. Other restaurants include the Big Sur Oyster Bar, Don Vito's, Garden Buffet, Seattle's Best Coffee House and the Del Mar Deli.
One of South Points more unique features is the Equestrian Center and Arena, a first for Vegas. The Equestrian Center holds a variety of events, from college basketball to Championship Bull Riding.