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New MDA "Show of Strength" Telethon for 2013

June 27, 2013 – The IAFF's partnership with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is one of the most beneficial – for both MDA and this union and members – of any initiative this IAFF has undertaken throughout its great history.

IAFF affiliates' Fill-the-Boot drives and other fundraising efforts have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, and helped thousands of children, teens, adults - and even its own members - who have struggled with these terrible diseases. And as a result of these efforts and partnership with MDA, the IAFF has grown to be known as a caring, charitable organization that is part of the very fabric of communities across the country.

Last year, the format of MDA's Telethon – its flagship fundraising event – changed from a two-day marathon to a more modern production involving much higher profile acts packed into a two hour show. Again this year, MDA’s show will be called the “Show of Strength” Telethon. But the show will have a new home in 2013 – the ABC Television Network.

"This is a very big deal," says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "This is a major development because being on primetime network television alone increases the potential audience by tens of millions."

All 207 ABC-affiliated stations nationwide will broadcast the two-hour primetime program this Labor Day weekend, Sunday, September 1. While there will no longer be any local telethons/cut-aways – as the viewership of those had dramatically trailed off – they will be replaced with events tailored to the preferences of IAFF locals and branded heavily with locals’ image/logo.

Local MDA staff representatives will be in contact with all IAFF affiliates about how they will be recognized in local events that will replace the cut-aways.

The IAFF will also be working directly with MDA on a new, updated media kick-off effort, including local press blitzes, city council meeting presentations and proclamations, as well as online and social media ads and messages through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and local online outlets to recognize IAFF affiliate activities at the community level, and to share on local IAFF sites.

The new show will feature stories about the families MDA serves, but using a much updated/high definition/high production value, including musical performances by multiple A-list singers/bands/acts – similar to the highly watched shows produced by the networks to benefit Super Storm Sandy victims and more recently the families affected by the tornadoes. Those shows are really take-offs of highly successful reality performance shows like “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent,” and many of the producers of this new show also work on those reality shows.

Most importantly, there will be a much-improved/updated method of recognition of MDA’s national sponsor partners, foremost being the IAFF. Over the course of the two hours, our union, affiliates and members will be recognized in a number of ways and at a much higher frequency than other sponsors. The IAFF will have an HD, high-quality one-minute spot featuring the top 10 producing locals for MDA. In addition, another full one-minute spot will profile IAFF member and MDA patient, Shaun Probert and his dramatic and compelling story. In addition, there will be a 30-second IAFF-focused “Make a Muscle” spot.

The biggest new element MDA is proposing is to have one of its top musical acts perform a 4-5 minute piece while a video montage of IAFF members working and raising money is played. This will give recognition to the next top 40 fundraising locals and is something that no other sponsor will have. "It will give an extended focus/thanks to IAFF affiliates and members for all they do for MDA and their communities that will give members something to watch and feel good about," says Schaitberger.

And finally, there will be a crawl across the bottom of the screen throughout the show that will recognize even more affiliates and members that do the incredible Fill-the-Boot work across this union.

"This new venture with the ABC television network is very promising," says Schaitberger. "I look forward to the IAFF and MDA’s next chapter in this Labor Day weekend tradition. And I’m confident this new approach will demonstrate how IAFF members in communities throughout the country continue to be on the frontline of MDA’s mission of help and hope."

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