There was a time, not so long ago, that the Muscular Dystrophy Association's fundraising total was beamed across a tote board as its annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon ended.
This is not that time.
The announced figure from this year's Labor Day Weekend, a figure posted on the MDA website ... sometime whenever ... is $58.7 million. You have to perform some drilling to locate the document, which is dated Oct. 5 on the MDA site. That seems an inventive marking of time, as phone calls and e-mails to MDA officials requesting the fundraising totals long after Oct. 5 went unreturned, and the figure was not publicized upon posting (I sent a note over to an MDA PR rep on Halloween asking for the figure, which still has not been formally announced outside the recesses of the MDA website).
For those who look to Wikipedia for any measure of updated information, that site still lists the 2012 total as “TBD.” So, if anyone wants to dig into Wiki and edit that figure, it is: $58.7 million “and still counting,” according to the MDA>
The most recent “MDA Show of Strength” broadcast aired Labor Day on 150 networks across the country. Important to note is the $58.7 million figure is “the centerpiece of the Association’s yearlong fundraising efforts,” as the MDA’s news release informs. That heads-up indicates that $58.7 million was not garnered during the actual broadcast -- and there is no way that figure could be raised in just three hours -- but rather a sum covering the entire year between the 2011 and 2012 shows.
The 3-hour “Show of Strength” telecast featured recorded appearances by Carrie Underwood, Pitbull, Will.I.Am and Carole King and a whole host of celebs from every plane of pop culture (Tim McGraw, Khloe Kardashian Odom and Lou Ferrigno were heard from). The announced total is short, by about $2.5 million, of the $61.5 million figure released on Labor Day Weekend 2011, after the 6-hour version of the broadcast aired.
Coverage in the days after that fundraising broadcast centered on the apparent $2 million boost in donations between 2011 and 2010, when the final show hosted by Jerry Lewis at South Point raised $59 million.
But as we have further learned, the real number raised is what the MDA reports to the federal government in its annual tax fillings. The actual figure amassed by the MDA from 2011, reported to the IRS, was about $30.6 million, just half of what was pledged. That 50-percent return rate was far and away the lowest rate for the MDA dating to at least 1999.
We await the 2012 returns to find that real number, balanced against what the MDA has posted. Naturally, finding the real MDA total is likely to require another excavation effort.