I Still Miss Jerry Lewis and The M.D.A. Labor Day Telethon
Here it is the 2018 Labor Day holiday weekend. Where has the time gone? Weren’t basketballs just bouncing on Quincy’s streets during Memorial Day? Holidays and traditions seem to go hand in hand. Gus Macker, which will come to an end in 2 years, is held on Memorial Day weekend and The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon used to be held during Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, it no longer exists. The demise of the Telethon, in my opinion, happened when they fired Jerry Lewis. Lewis was a part of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon from 1966 to 2010. For 44 years Jerry Lewis, who passed away on August 20, 2017, brought some of the best entertainers to our homes through our television sets and for a great cause.
It all ended prior to the 2011 show when he was asked not to return for reasons that are still unknown today and without him, the telethon suffered. After Lewis was dismissed, the 24 hour telethon was whittled down to just 3 hours. It ran a few years under different names and eventually discontinued in 2015.
I can recall the past years when WGEM-TV would host the local portion of it with numerous "local" segments featuring local people. It was fun to watch because you never knew who would be on the next local cut-in.
For years I, along with my then co-host Dennis Oliver, would actually live on the pavement overnight in a house that was built with Pepsi cases. We would sell each case with a portion of the cost going to Muscular Dystrophy. By the end of 24 hours we usually had the house down to its foundation and we would go home knowing we helped the cause.
One year we sold it so fast that we thought we wouldn't have to actually sleep on the pavement overnight and might even get to go home and sleep in our own beds. Then, the Pepsi truck showed up and rebuilt the house. Oh, the stories we could tell of the events that took place in that Pepsi House. We never knew who would drop by.
Here's to Jerry Lewis and all he did for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and "Jerry's Kids". Labor Day weekends haven’t been the same without him.