Champion boxersLaila Ali and Victor Ortiz are fighting back against muscle disease by appearing on the annual MDA Show of Strength Telethon this Labor Day weekend airing Sunday, Aug. 31, 9/8c on ABC television stations across the country.
Ali, former super middleweight world champion and current host of "All In, with Laila Ali," will introduce a performance from American rock band Fall Out Boy during the Muscular Dystrophy Association's nationally broadcast show.
Ortiz will introduce R&B sensation Aloe Blacc's performance of his hit "The Man." The former WBC welterweight champ-turned-actor took time from promoting his supporting role in this summer's blockbuster action flick "The Expendables 3" to show his support for MDA at the Hollywood Palladium.
Both Ali and Ortiz took their support backstage at the show taping to meet with MDA families and learn more about MDA's mission to save and improve lives of children and adults affected by muscle disease.
"I've had to fight a lot of tough bouts in my career to become a champion, but that word - fight - has a whole new meaning for me after meeting with MDA families and learning about the challenges they face every day in the fight against muscle disease," Ortiz said. "These families are true champions and I'm happy to lend my support to help continue the progress that will one day lead to cure for these life-threatening diseases."
Ortiz also did an exclusive interview with "blue" carpet correspondent and 15-year-old MDA Ambassador Abbey Umali of Redlands, Calif. Umali is affected by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) which causes muscle weakness, lack of coordination and loss of sensation in the upper and lower extremities. (Click here to see their exclusive interview and learn why Victor Ortiz supports MDA.)
The 2014 MDA telethon will feature a star-studded celebrity lineup with performances from Grammy® winners Rascal Flatts and LeAnn Rimes, plus Aloe Blacc, American Authors, Bret Michaels, Fall Out Boy, Jason Derulo, Matt Nathanson, R5 and Sara Evans.
Additional celebrity presenters on the telethon include: Tom Bergeron, ABC's Dr. Richard Besser, Jann Carl, Charles Esten, Terry Fator, Kevin Frazier, Josh Groban, Ludacris, Susan Lucci, Kesha, Alyssa Milano, Nancy O'Dell, Brad Paisley, Chris Powell, Jordin Sparksand Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz.
About MDA Show of Strength Telethon
MDA's first Labor Day weekend telethon was broadcast in 1966 on a single New York station and has become the most successful fundraising event in the history of television. The show, originally hosted by iconic star Jerry Lewis and with help from a legion of top celebrities and entertainers, has raised millions each year to provide life-enhancing support and services for the families MDA serves. The real stars on the broadcast have always been the MDA families who have graciously agreed to open their homes and hearts to America and tell their stories of strength. This year marks the 49th annual MDA telethon.
R.A. (RAC) Clark, longtime executive producer of the Academy of Country Music Awards, will return for a third consecutive year as MDA telethon executive producer.
In addition to funds contributed by the public, substantial support also comes from MDA's family of national sponsors, whose work throughout the year on behalf of MDA will be recognized on the telethon. Among the sponsors: International Association of Fire Fighters, CITGO Petroleum Corp., Lowe's, Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Jiffy Lube International, National Association of Letter Carriers, The Safeway Foundation, 7-Eleven, Dr Pepper Snapple Group/7UP, Acosta and Burger King.
Funds raised by MDA telethons also have contributed to the organization's worldwide research program. Today, through current clinical trials, there is growing excitement that new lifesaving treatments and discoveries are on the horizon for many of the disorders MDA is dedicated to defeating, including Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Visit mda.org/showofstrength to learn more about the 2014 MDA telethon.