Telethon raises $604,864 locally for MDA

By ALISON KEPNER, [email protected]
Published by on September 2, 2003

A firefighter waved his boot, soliciting donations at a busy Fort Myers intersection Sunday afternoon.
Laura Fonock, program coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, fishes the last rubber duck out of a fountain during the MDA Telethon at Miromar Outlets in Estero on Monday. The fountain was filled with rubber ducks earlier for the pick-a-duck-for-a-dollar-donation game, in which some won prizes. TODD STUBING/

In Estero, volunteers peddled temporary tattoos, child IDs and silent auction items Monday.

Meanwhile, others filled Fox 4’s Cape Coral studio, answering phones and logging in donations.

This weekend it didn’t matter how or where: anything to raise a buck.

Those bucks added up to $604,864 to aid the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Nationally, the 38th annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon raised a record $60.5 million.

The 21 €-hour broadcast broke last year’s record of $58.3 million. Included in this year’s total was $18.3 million contributed by the International Association of Fire Fighters, a longtime sponsor of the MDA.

The privately funded MDA works to combat more than 40 neuromuscular diseases through research, services to those afflicted and professional and public health education.

Local organizers said their efforts, which ranged from children’s games at Miromar Outlets to Fort Myers’ finest manning its street corners, were a success.

“We’re extremely excited” about the total, said Cheryl Ammon, district director.

The group raised just more than $600,000 last year.

This is the fourth year Ed and Ruth Giampietro of Estero have volunteered. They spent about four hours Monday making child IDs for a suggested $2 donation at Miromar Outlets.

“We corralled them in with a smile,” Ruth Giampietro said.

They raised about $75 before afternoon showers forced them to close shop.

“We did better than last year,” when they raised about $50, Ed Giampietro said.

Eileen Galvin, executive director of the Estero Chamber of Commerce, worked to lure passers-by to her silent auction table.

“Make a bid,” she called as she tried to sell a curious on-looker on the DVD player, bracelet, gift certificates and other donated items up for bid.

Galvin said she looks forward to working with MDA each year, and she’ll likely be back again next Labor Day.

“It’s great to see all the kids and all the excitement,” she said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.