23 July 2013

Doing It All for Jerry's Kids

Growing up, the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Labor Day telethon was must-see TV in our house. We liked to tune in toward the end since Jerry Lewis, who hosted for more than 50 years, was sleep deprived by then and liable to say anything and usually did.  (I also thought that the MDA telethon included the cringe-worthy parade of the afflicted children walking/wheeling in a circle singing "Look at us we're walking/Look at us we're talking," but that was apparently used for the Cerebral Palsy telethon.)

Sounds like the MDA was part of my friend Ken Tucker’s DNA as well. Tomorrow, he’ll take part in Music City’s MDA Lock-Up. Nashville music and business leaders raise “bail” money, so they won’t be locked up, with all proceeds going to MDA, ALS and other related muscular disease charities. Instead of getting hauled off to jail, they go to Fleming’s Steak House, hardly the same thing, but you get the idea. 

I’m always interested why people support the causes they do, so I asked Ken about his background with MDA: 

“My interest in the work the Muscular Dystrophy Association goes back to when I was growing up in Cleveland. Back then you could order a kit from MDA to host your own carnival to raise money for "Jerry's Kids." It was a lot of fun and after you sent your money in you would watch for your name to be mentioned during the Labor Day Telethon that Jerry Lewis hosted. I don't think I ever raised more than $36 in a given year, but it always felt good to help out.

Fast forward many years and a friend invited me to visit the MDA summer camp for children from Kentucky and Tennessee. It was amazing to see how much fun the kids were having and how going to camp for one week both gave their parents a break and also offered children the chance to do things they couldn't do at home, such as go swimming. (The pool at the camp is specially constructed to allow wheel chair access.) 

By chance (or was it?), I was invited to take part in the MDA Lock-up a few weeks after I had toured the camp and I quickly agreed. 

I've gotten the chance to meet a number of children who have been diagnosed with various forms of muscular dystrophy and while they have great attitudes, I know they still need our help. This is my third year participating in the Lock-Up and I'm working with MDA to figure out a few more ways that I can help.”

For Chooseday Tuesday, $10 goes to Ken and his great support of the MDA

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