Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Raising all that money for Muscular Dystrophy raises a burning question

Yesterday at his annual Labor Day Telethon broadcast on 190 stations, Jerry Lewis raised nearly $64 million to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The IAFF or International Association of Fire Fighters contributed 40% of the total. In 42 years Lewis has raised over $1.4 billion dollars to fight MD. The annual Telethon accounts for about a quarter of MDA’s net income.

Muscular Dystrophy is actually an umbrella term for some forty-odd neuromuscular diseases. All that money: Must be a lot of people with MD. Actually approximately one in 4,000 newborns gets the disease, which means that 80,000 babies get MD each year in the US.

Another statistic from the National Center for Health Statistics says that around 1,200 people die annually from MD.

MD has no cure so these two statistics do not add up. You can’t have 80,000 babies getting MD and only 1,200 dying from it. Some possibilities are that MD victims leave the US before they die, death statistics are underreported, or birth statistics are overreported. I’ll have to ask Jerry Lewis about this, maybe he knows.

It turns out that burn injuries are second only to motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in the US. According to the Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 2.4 million burn injuries are reported each year and one million will sustain substantial or permanent disabilities resulting from their burn injury. That’s twelve times the number of babies getting MD.

The International Association of Fire Fighters has incredible power to raise money. Think what they could do for burn victims.

It’s too bad George Burns isn’t around anymore. With that cigar of his he’d be the perfect host for a telethon.


Martha said...

You should confine your mathematic pontifications to math! You obviously don't understand that people with MD live all their lives with the debilitating disease. Did you ever stop to think that it might be a good thing that only 1,200 people die from the disease each year? For a charity to be a "good" charity do the number of people born with the malady it supports have to correspond to the number that die from it in a year's time? Do you even know what MDA does with the funds it raises? Apparently not. I suppose it's easy to take pot shots at worthy causes when you are ignorant of the details. Try doing some research before you mouth off next time!

Larry Shiller said...

Hi Martha,

I do the math and leave the judgment calls to people like yourself, and to burn victims or any other folks who also suffer through their lives. No one's got a lock on that.

So I thank you for your comment for that - and for one additional reason: I am prompted to do one soon on anger management.