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April 20, 2014

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Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon brings in $60.5 million

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Steve Marcus

Jerry Lewis, seated, during the final hour.

Jerry Lewis closes 2009 MDA Telethon

Jerry Lewis reacts happily to a tally update. Launch slideshow »

Jerry Lewis 2009 MDA Telethon

Jerry Lewis hosts the 44th Annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon on Sunday night. The yearly telethon is at the South Point and earns millions of dollars in the fight against muscular dystrophy. Launch slideshow »

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.

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