CHICAGO, May 1 (UPI) -- The Muscular Dystrophy Association says it has decided to discontinue its annual Labor Day telethon.
The organization credited "the new realities of television viewing and philanthropic giving" for the move and said it plans to "invest more in digital and mobile channels for consumer engagement and activation."
"The decision to end our beloved telethon was not made lightly," MDA President and Chief Executive Officer Steven M. Derks said in a statement Friday. "In the last few years, the show was adjusted to reflect changes in viewership and donor patterns, and last summer's Ice Bucket Challenge once again affirmed for us that today's families, donors and sponsors are looking to us for new, creative and organic ways to support our mission."
The first MDA telethon aired in 1956 and the fundraising entertainment program has attracted America's most famous celebrities over the years. Comedy icon Jerry Lewis emceed the event through 2010.
"We have ambitious plans to leverage our history, the compelling stories of our families and our record of innovation -- just like we did decades ago when we introduced the telethon and cause-marketing for nonprofit organizations -- as we continue to use creative ways to connect with supporters and deliver more value for our sponsors, never forgetting the families who are at the very heart of our mission," Derks said.