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A Different Labor Day Weekend

by Melissa Brunner

It's Labor Day weekend and, I must admit, I'm feeling a bit lost. For the first time in 17 years, the Muscular Dystrophy Association's telethon will not be a part of my plans.

As was announced in June, MDA reached an agreeement with the ABC television network to air its annual Show of Strength telethon in primetime nationwide this Sunday night. It's the first time the telethon has aired on a single network. Until now, MDA has negotiated with stations individually to form its independent "Love Network" of stations. Since WIBW-TV is a CBS affiliate, for the first time in more than 40 years, we will not be showing the MDA telethon.

It's odd for Ralph and I because, for years, this has been a pretty busy week for us. We are finishing up editing stories with local families, finding video of MDA events held throughout the year, studying the latest research developments and attending meetings to finalize the rundowns for our local segments. Until the show moved to Sunday night two years ago, we'd plot to get up bright and early Monday morning to go on the air at 6 am (Ralph was part of the overnight broadcasts before that!) and keep the adrenaline going until 6 that night.

I mention all this because I want you to know that, while the network has changed and our professional involvement has ended, our love for the children, adults and families whom MDA serves has not. They need your love and support, just as they always have. In the past year, we lost a 10-year-old boy to Duchenne Dystrophy. A boy whose smile and laugh will always be with me. A boy who I will remember racing his older brother, who also has the disease, in his wheelchair. A boy who loved summer camp and riding four wheelers. A boy who will not grow up.

But the continued support of MDA and the research which the organization funds gives his family hope that his older brother will grow up and will realize his dreams. These are the people who it is all about.

People generally don't like change. Change is difficult. We often write off major changes as a sign something is wrong and use it to fuel negative attitudes toward an organization, business, group or individual. Sometimes, change must happen. If this change moves MDA forward and allows it to focus more resources on its mission to support families and find treatments and cures for neuromuscular diseases, then the change is a good thing. Please, do not use this change as an excuse to stop supporting MDA. The families need your help and the cures continue to be oh, so close. We know, with your help, they will come.

You can make a secure donation to the MDA through their web site, www.mda.org.

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