Jerry Lewis...an editorial

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Offline 1972vet

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Jerry Lewis...an editorial
« on: September 06, 2011, 07:12:46 AM »
Jerry Lewis - Labor Day - Telethon

Those three...Jerry Lewis, Labor Day, Telethon, have become synonymous. Say any of those at anytime and one thinks of the other two immediately.
 
For sixty years, Jerry had been the voice for people with disabilities relating to any one of the 40 neuro-muscular diseases known as muscular dystrophy. In his tenure, he raked into the pot, more than two and a half billion dollars to be used for research into the possible treatments for both abating and curing any of those terrible diseases, many of which are fatal and usually striking the youngest of our children first.

Anyone who's lost a child can attest...it's more agonizing than anything one can possibly imagine. The worst of the worse pain. Top of the pain chart. Nothing more painful...period.

Lose any member of the family and it's like heart surgery without anesthesia, but lose a child and one's description of the pain doesn't seem to fit anywhere. It's just...intolerable pain.

I can't imagine it. I just can't do it. I won't even allow myself to go near it...but Jerry has. Jerry does.

Each time one of those children slipped away from us, he felt it. He grieved along with the family. A true advocate...true friend. In earnest, Jerry would pray, hope, and comfort where he could and do what he did best with all the gusto of a newly recruited army troop, and all on behalf of those afflicted. Both victim and family.

No one else did that to that extent, to that degree, with the indescribable zeal that Jerry would exhibit. All of that is gone now...never to be repeated.

Have any of you ever undertaken any kind of endeavor, only to find some discomfort that persuaded you to quit soon after you started doing it? Move on? Drop it like a bad habit, and find something else to do? I have. I can imagine I might still run into something like that. It's just me I guess. I might try something and give up in a short while because I'd have discovered it just wasn't even close to what I thought it was. So, it only seemed logical to drop it and move on to something else. Jerry may also be that kind of person but you wouldn't know it. Not with his track record.

Anyone who stays with something for sixty years, would be considered out of character should s/he just drop it and move on. That's not what Jerry did, but that's what it looks like he did.

I'm here to say something about that...a sort of advocate for Jerry. Yeah, a turnabout. This time, Jerry could use an advocate.

Over the years, I heard Jerry say "as long as I have breath, I'll be here", regarding the MDA Labor Day Telethon. He still has breath, but he didn't show this year...and not because he quit. Not because he dropped it in favor of moving on to something else...but because the highly paid stuffed shirts that make up the board of "MDA decision makers", told him thanks for your time and effort but we don't need you anymore.

No fanfare, no final signing off appearance, no "two week notice", no warning...no nothing, just get out, we don't need you anymore! Sure, a small and brief little blurb made headlines back in March (Jerry's birthday month) about Jerry retiring and wouldn't be on the show this year...or something about as lame and obscure as that, and then a detraction. All that did was to confuse the public. It offered no details, no explanation.

I don't believe I would have to describe for anyone, what I would say or do about that if it were to have happened to me. I can guess that most of you would have a similar reaction that couldn't be properly detailed here in print.

I can feel Jerry's pain.

Labor Day will never be the same without Jerry Lewis and his telethon. As long as I can remember, I would spend some time watching every year. The show was entertaining, informative, and packed with family sentiment. Nowhere else, at any time of the year, could you find anything that even came close to that. Jerry was to me, like one of the family. A distant relative, who's visit was always anticipated and welcome. One who's coming would bring about, long nights up late visiting and sharing. Fun family time that just can't be equaled or replaced. Truly, something to keep warm and close to the heart. A visit from such a relative always invoked a deep sigh of relief..."finally, you're here"!

Now all of that is gone. Having "slipped away" from us virtually without warning. As with many of the class of fatal neuro-muscular diseases, we all knew the end would come. Even when expected, the end is still an immediate shock to the heart...like a cold slap in the face. A sudden realization that your family member left the planet and you didn't get the chance to say goodbye. I love you. I'll miss you. Nothing...just an unbearable pain in the center of your chest. A most grievous pain that you know will leave a scar.

I love you Jerry. I'll miss you...I miss you already. I wasn't quite ready to say goodbye.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2011, 07:18:13 AM by 1972vet »
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Offline Hoov

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Re: Jerry Lewis...an editorial
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2011, 07:16:58 PM »
I would like to see everyone be a thorn in the side of the MDA headshed. Write them a letter expressing your displeasure with their decision. Make it clear that you will still donate as before, but that those who are running the shop need to be replaced. No one should be kicked to the curb as Jerry was.

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Re: Jerry Lewis...an editorial
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2011, 07:22:47 AM »
It's a very sad state of affairs when Nygel Lythgoe and the likes, is thought to be an equal replacement for such a legend like Jerry Lewis. Don't get me wrong...I like Nygel fine enough, but I like Simon Cowel better, and neither has a place on the annual MDA telethon as host or center piece. They're better suited for American Idol or other such "reality" T.V. shows but both would be out of their element on the MDA telethon.

The Jerry Lewis Telethon was an American tradition. It's gone now as far as I'm concerned. There is no more telethon. When Jerry would produce the show, it was a pleasure to spend the time watching. The combination of the glitziest of night club acts including the veteran entertainers we all knew, along with the newest finds around, all came together for one purpose...to support the effort to raise funding needed to find a cure for those diseases. All of them volunteered to do this at JERRY's reguest, not MDA's. Jerry was the catalyst that got things moving.

Everyone who's anyone in the entertainment business knew that Jerry was big. Influential. Benevolent. Genuine. A true legend bigger than life and they all loved him and loved working with him for those kids. No paycheck was ever expected. None was ever requested. I doubt that's the case anymore.

None of the imbeciles who agreed to remove him as MDA president and chairman has a clue what it takes to devote themselves to anything. Not until they've reached the ripe old age of 85, after having maintained the same status for 60 years of loyalty to any particular cause.

Think back. What year was it sixty years ago?  1951 is the correct answer. America was still getting to know "Martin and Lewis". They had just teamed up as an act over the previous 5 or 6 years and were, in the very beginning, a total flop. Even by 1951, believe it or not, there were still folks who had never heard of Jerry Lewis or Dean Martin. Would such a fumbling team of comedians be willing to go out on a limb, and begin to ask the public for donations? They risked it. They did. They did and at a time, much like to day, when money and budgets were tight and America responded.

Jerry stuck with it over the years and made it his own personal conviction to push for it until his breath failed. America knows the story...the Martin/Lewis relationship failed. Some of their own relationships failed, even some endeavors failed but Jerry didn't fail his conviction.

I don't know how many of the readers here has ever encountered a personal failure...a relationship failure...job failure. The feelings that come with all that is enough to sink a mighty battle ship. I know that feeling. I had enough of 'em over the years and I can say with confidence lol...when that happens, there is no way you feel like maintaining anything selfless. Selfish is what first comes to mind. Me and mine are better descriptions of what someone begins to think on in such situations. Not Jerry. At least not to the extent that he gave up on his conviction.

That kind of passion doesn't seem to exist anymore. Anyone? Anyone else think they can duplicate this? I know I couldn't.

I have at least one friend, among quite a few who are disabled, that actually was invited to appear on the telethon locally. That friend was (is still) a victim. She was also invited to the White house by then vice president Al Gore, who had requested her input into some legislation that he was trying to pass, for the benefit of the handicapped. She received the invite BECAUSE of her appearance on the telethon. And...because she accepted the White house invite, we now have the "Americans with Disabilities" act and all because the MDA telethon was willing to accommodate her. Had that not happened, she could not have appeared. Had she not appeared, we would not have passed the bill as it was written. Her input WAS useful. Thanks Jerry. You made this happen.

Today, there is no more telethon. Six hours? That's not a telethon...that's an annoyance, much like a presidential interruption of the Super Bowl game for a state of the union address. What handicapped individual can guarantee to make an appointment with such a small window of opportunity as the six hours between dinner time and midnight? I know I couldn't guarantee it. No way would I commit to it. I need a wider gap. I still haven't been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities offered  by the MSMVP program because of it.

Anyway, the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon is an event that will never again be repeated in quite the same way. It occurred over a lifetime. It took a lifetime to make it work. I see no other way to keep it afloat unless Jerry is re-instated. Sure, there will always be an "MDA" as long as it takes to find a cure but it won't be remembered well.

I should correct that...it WILL be well remembered what they did and how they treated their biggest contributor. There's not another human on the planet who can rightfully say they contributed more than Jerry did.

I'm certain, beyond any doubt, the leadership at MDA are already sorry they didn't renege. It's not too late. It's never too late to correct a mistake but I hold little hope that they'll see the error they made.

What a damned shame.
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Re: Jerry Lewis...an editorial
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2011, 07:37:52 PM »
I have expressed my displeasure with them. Unfortunately I can't string words together like you. But I sent it to those who needed to hear it.

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Offline 1972vet

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Re: Jerry Lewis...an editorial
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 08:22:19 AM »
Thanks bro...Jerry Lewis, in my opinion, is and should be still, the only name that comes to mind when any mention is made of MDA, Labor Day, or Telethon.

Jerry Lewis is, in the truest sense, one of the greatest humanitarians directly responsible for the level of comfort that untold thousands of neuro-muscular disease victims now enjoy. I would hate to know what the results would have been over the years, as to the mortality rate in numbers of years. That is, the number of years that were to have been lived but were not because certain medical elements were either unavailable or not provided because of the lack of funding.

My wife's very best friend was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 30. With the Labor Day Telethon of that year still fresh in our minds, she died on October the 8th. She died in just three years agonizing over the prospect that her child would be without a Mother...and she would not be able to watch her (then) five year old start school...and who would take care of her child...to my knowledge, this was her biggest concern. Not for herself, but for her child.

MDA had, more so in recent years, begun to showcase some of the aspects of the disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and had actually been making some impressive progress. For MDA to begin funding for the support of ALS victims, it was a joint effort but it took Jerry's pushing and insistence to bring this about.

The total volume of selfless acts that Jerry Lewis has to his credit in his lifetime would cause any of us to hang our heads in shame were we to even think about comparing that to anything we have done.

Since MDA has ousted it's biggest contributor, the future doesn't look as bright as I'm sure it would, had Jerry's name and example been retained and respected.

Jerry's concern for the victims of the neuro-muscular disease victims is, in our minds, equal to that of my wife's friend who's thoughts and concerns were only of her child. What could MDA have possibly been thinking? God only knows.

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Re: Jerry Lewis...an editorial
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2011, 10:49:05 AM »
Even if Jerry had not had as much concern for the victims that he really does, the fact that he had worked for the cause for so long should have earned him at least one big blowout with him passing the reigns over to someone else. In my mind anyone that works for 60 odd years at any one thing needs to be acknowledge with more than "Thanks for the memories". Even if his health was poor, and he could not physically do the show, there should have been some kind of message explaining why. The fact that they just said "He is retiring" just doesn't ring true. Even if Jerry had decided "It is time for me to stop" I doubt if he would have done it this way. He would have come on one last time, even if it was a bit appearance, and tell everyone that he was retiring. The way this all was handled was very disrespectful to Jerry and to everyone who has supported MDA over the years because of Jerry.

And when all is said and done, that is the one thing that stands out in front of everything else, the handling of this was very disrespectful.

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