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The End of the Jerry Lewis Telethon—It's About Time


The Jerry Lewis Telethon has always been a controversial program. It has been well-intentioned, no doubt. However, I am always reminded of a story from one of my colleagues, mother of a son with cerebral palsy. She stopped taking her son out to eat over Labor Day weekend because invariably some stranger would come up to her and ask, “Do I give him the money or do I give it to you?” We are many years beyond the need for pity and condescension for our children with disabilities. We know they deserve all the respect our children require—they are individual people, with their own needs, interests and talents. Founder, Federation for Children with Special Needs, and author, My Daughter, My Teacher: Mary Ann, Autistic in English and Spanish, iUniverse 2010,


Martha Ziegler

Woburn, MA

Sep 5 2011 - 4:30pm

The End of the Jerry Lewis Telethon—It's About Time

Thanks for the memories (not)

As a person with disabilities, though not any associated with MD, I am thrilled to see the end of this man’s reign. Jerry Lewis has done more to perpetuate the worst stereotypes about disabilities than any other figure in history. It doesn't matter how much money has been raised when it was done by “pimping out” children with disabilities and holding a day-long pity-party. That money can be raised without perpetuating stereotypes and while being accurate about and respectful toward people with disabilities. You can be grateful to the MDA without honoring a dishonorable man. He was unrepentant to the end. His “generosity” was no generosity at all, merely a way to keep his name in the headlines long after his career as a comedian was over.


Verona, Wi

Sep 3 2011 - 11:43am

The End of the Jerry Lewis Telethon—It's About Time

MDA and Jerry Lewis: miracle workers

My wife suffered with ALS for nearly ten years. As of today, there is neither a cure nor an effective treatment to amerliorate its devastation. Without the assisance of the MDA, it would have been impossible to obtain the healthcare required, or even to survive.

Weiner writes: “What people with the disability need is help with their symptoms and with mobility. Their quality of life can be improved, their symptoms can be reduced. They also need ‘accessible public transportation and housing, employment opportunities and other civil rights that a democratic society should ensure for all its citizens.’ ”

The MDA provides such help, which is virtually not available elsewhere. They provide assistance with wheelchairs and assistive speaking and communication devices. They sponsor all types of therapy and technological research. They help patients to maneuver around the obstacles required to obtain insurance, Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

My wife benefited from all of thoses services. I am eternally grateful for the support services they provided.

Yes, Jerry Lewis is an outsized character with a “niche” appeal among little kids and the French. He is tough to take. The need to stress help for kids and the quest for a cure is a fund-raising reality he perceived long ago; in view of the hundreds of millions, or even billions, raised, I guess the joke is on Weiner.

Few can deny Jerry Lewis meets the definition of buffoon; to those who suffer from neuromuscular diseases, he has enchanced their lives with more than laughter.

Asher Fried

Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Sep 2 2011 - 1:43pm