Jerry Lewis’ annual Labor Day telethon raised a record $61 million to fight muscular dystrophy, bolstered by a huge donation from a group of firefighters and the lack of a major hurricane before the show.
“We did good,” said Lewis, 80, looking choked up as the final figure, $61,013,855, flashed across the tote board Monday. “I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for so many little people that can’t thank you, can’t show their appreciation in any way.”
Leading the contributors was the International Association of Fire Fighters, which donated a record $23.5 million.
The previous record for the telecast, which has raised $1.4 billion to fight the disease since 1966, was set in 2003. That year, supporters gave $60.5 million.
The following years were marred by hurricanes, including last year, when Katrina knocked out television stations along the Gulf Coast and donors focused on hurricane support. The telethon raised $54.9 million to battle muscular dystrophy last year.
“I think there was a great sense of relief that there weren’t any storms,” said Bob Mackle, Muscular Dystrophy Association spokesman.
The broadcast, which returned to Las Vegas this year after 11 years in Los Angeles, began Sunday evening and was carried on 190 stations in the United States and Canada.