Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, will.i.am and Carole King are set to headline the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day weekend entertainment special — now called MDA SHOW of STRENGTH.
The show, featuring more than a dozen of today’s top entertainers, also will include inspirational “stories of strength” about families affected by muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the show and the incredible talent we have lined up this year,” said MDA Interim President Valerie Cwik, M.D. “MDA is in business to save and enhance lives. Our show will both entertain and urge the American public to answer the call to support critically important research and services for more than a million Americans affected by neuromuscular diseases.”
MDA SHOW of STRENGTH, a three-hour prime-time broadcast special, will air on Sunday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT. The show will include performances and celebrity appearances from Hollywood, Nashville and New York.
In addition to Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, Will.i.am and Carole King, the following stars also are scheduled to appear: All-American Rejects, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, B.o.B, Brandy, Luke Bryan, Gavin DeGraw, Hot Chelle Rae, Karmin, Alanis Morissette, OneRepublic, Eva Simons, Paula Abdul, Max Adler, Jann Carl, Diana DeGarmo, Lou Ferrigno, Benji Madden, Joel Madden, Jesse McCartney, Tim McGraw, The Miz, Nancy O’Dell, Khloé Kardashian Odom, Alison Sweeney, Ace Young and more.
The show will be broadcast over MDA’s “Love Network” of almost 150 television stations across the country and streamed from mda.org. Local cutaways will feature Atlanta area families, sponsors and MDA service programs. You can watch it on CW69 Sunday September 2nd from 8-11pm. The show is hosted locally by Keisha Lancelin and Ken Cook.
“This year’s show gives everyone involved a unique opportunity,” said MDA SHOW of STRENGTH Executive Producer RAC Clark. “We have a chance to tell a series of compelling stories about MDA families while delivering quality entertainment. In doing so, we can raise public awareness of MDA’s long-standing mission of help for today and hope for tomorrow.”
Clark is a longtime executive producer of the “Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards” and the son of the late Dick Clark.
“RAC has a history and knack for making shows and events successful, and MDA SHOW of STRENGTH will benefit from his talent,” said Pete Fisher, vice president and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry. “MDA is in good hands with RAC. He’s done a phenomenal job with the ACM Awards and has helped continue country music’s growth and popularity. He’s connected with the biggest names in the business.”
Through the years, MDA’s iconic fundraising show has presented some of TV’s most memorable moments. What started as a 21½-hour Labor Day weekend telethon was shortened to six hours in 2011 in response to changing television viewing habits.
“The broadcasting and entertainment industries have experienced dramatic change; as a result, our show has changed with it,” said MDA Executive Vice President of Business Development Kevin Moran. “But our cause remains the same and our commitment to our families is unwavering. MDA has assembled an outstanding team focused on putting together a jam-packed, three-hour special that drives home our mission and inspires our audience to contribute generously.”
Joining Clark as co-producers are Los Angeles-based entertainment professionals Suzanne Bender and Debbie Williams, a popular TV stage director. Some of Bender’s current credits include the “Golden Globes,” “American Idol,” the “Academy of Country Music Awards” and “America’s Got Talent.” Williams’ credits also include the “Golden Globes,” “American Idol,” the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” as well as the “Academy Awards” and the “MTV Video Music Awards.”
“Suzanne and Debbie are the best in the business. Having worked with them and having seen their results, I know they’re a tremendous asset to this MDA team,” Clark said. “We’re all invested in this cause — we’re going to deliver a fabulous show this Labor Day weekend.”
Stories of Strength
Six “stories of strength” will be told from the individuals’ and families’ perspectives. They include MDA’s new National Goodwill Ambassador Bryson Foster, a spunky 12-year-old who envisions a future as an NFL quarterback; Veronica Nino, a 45-year-old mother of three who is fighting for one more day with her family after being diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease); and a teacher affected by spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) who credits MDA summer camp with giving her the confidence to pursue and achieve her dreams.
“I live independently, I work and have my own home — all of that is because of MDA,” said Angela Wrigglesworth during her show profile shoot in Houston.
The complete list of profiles includes: Veronica Nino, 45, of Friendswood, Texas; Angela Wrigglesworth, 35, of Houston; Kennedy Healy, 17, of Omaha, Neb.; Latondra Chappell, 14, of Charlotte, N.C.; MDA National Goodwill Ambassador Bryson Foster, 12, of Concord, N.C.; and Justin Moy, 12, of Concord, Mass.
Learn more about all the MDA SHOW of STRENGTH profile families at mda.org/showofstrength.
“Of the utmost importance is that our show audience be introduced to the incredible individuals and families served by the Association,” Cwik said. “Their stories of strength are what inspire all of us at MDA to seek out and fund the most promising research in muscle disease, and to improve their daily lives through our services programs and advocacy efforts.”
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.
In addition to funding some 300 research projects worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of 200 medical clinics; facilitates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; and provides local summer camp opportunities for thousands of youngsters living with progressive muscle diseases.
For information on the rich history of the telethon, visit mda.org/about/telethon-history.
The MDA contributed the majority of the content for this article.