Comedian Jerry Lewis says his 23rd-annual Labor Day telethon in Las Vegas, was "the wildest ride of emotions I've ever gone through" as he raised a record $41,132,113 in the 211/2-hour nationally broadcast program.Lewis had vowed to tug at the hearts of the 120 million viewers, and did so with a parade of celebrities and poignant stories from muscular dystrophy victims and their families.
"This is the wildest roller coaster I've ever been on, the wildest ride of emotions I've ever gone through," Lewis said as the tote board surpassed last year's record of $39,021,723.
Lewis has been involved with the New York-based Muscular Dystrophy Association for 39 years, beginning his annual Labor Day telethons in 1966.
The show featured appearances by corporate sponsors who contributed $34,379,537, which was not included in the final tote.
Because of the longevity and the money raised to date - $484,314,483 - the event has become known as "the" telethon.
Lewis saved some of the most touching moments for the final hours of the show, including a farewell to Mikey Neufeldt of New Berlin, Wis., the MDA poster child the past two years.