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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Hovhannes Avoyan, Elizabeth White, Adrian Bridgwater

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Country Stars Fight Back Against Muscle Disease During 49th Annual MDA Show of Strength Telethon

#MDAtelethon

CHICAGO, Aug. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Country music stars, including Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, Sara Evans and Brad Paisley, will bring their star power to the 49th annual MDA Show of Strength Telethon this Labor Day weekend airing this Sunday, Aug. 31, 9/8c on ABC television stations across the country. 

Country band Rascal Flatts hang out backstage with MDA Ambassador Bryson Foster, 14, at the 2014 MDA Show of Strength Telethon airing Sunday, Aug. 31 9|8c on ABC stations nationwide. The annual telethon raises funds and awareness to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s mission to save and improve the lives of children and adults fighting muscle disease.

Viewers tuning into the 2014 telethon, one of America's longest-standing and beloved fundraising and entertainment events, will enjoy musical performances and heartfelt appeals from the country stars, who appear on the show to help raise funds and awareness in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's mission to save and improve the lives of children and adults affected by muscle disease.

"As much fun as it was performing for this year's MDA telethon, getting to meet with Bryson Foster who's affected by muscular dystrophy was the real highlight of the whole experience for me and the guys," said Rascal Flatts lead vocalist Gary LeVox. "We're inspired by him and all that MDA does to help the families it serves, and we're honored to be part of the progress that's being made to end these life-threatening diseases."

During the two-hour national broadcast, country music trio Rascal Flatts will perform their popular hit "My Wish," and award-winning musician Sara Evans will sing her hit single "A Little Bit Stronger." Both performances were taped from the iconic Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

MDA Ambassador Bryson Foster, 14, of Concord, N.C., makes his third appearance on the national broadcast of the telethon when he introduces Rascal Flatts and Evans onstage for their respective performances. Bryson, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), also got exclusive interviews with the artists backstage on MDA's blue carpet.

Performing her hit single "Give" during the nationally broadcast show, Grammy award-winning singer LeAnn Rimes took time out from promoting and filming her new VH1 reality show, "LeAnn & Eddie," and her new remix album "Dance Like You Don't Give a … Greatest Hits Remixes" (which was released earlier this August) to show her support for MDA at the Hollywood Palladium.        

Rimes met backstage with MDA families onsite, which included 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 LeAnn supports MDA.  

Country superstar Brad Paisley also will make a special appeal on behalf of families served by MDA while giving an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at a taping of ABC's "Rising Star," a competition show that features Paisley in a mentoring role along with Kesha, Ludacris and Josh Groban.

"Our telethon will offer great entertainment from some of America's favorite country artists who are 'showing their strength' to inspire millions of viewers to rally behind families who courageously wage a battle against life-threatening muscle disease every day," MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks said. "The Show of Strength Telethon provides an incredible opportunity to celebrate everyone who has helped drive decades of progress by MDA in the search for treatments and cures."

Additionally, the 2014 MDA telethon will feature a star-studded celebrity lineup, including: American Authors, Aloe Blacc, Jason Derulo, Fall Out Boy, Bret Michaels, Matt Nathanson and R5.

Introductions or appeals for the show include: Laila Ali, Tom Bergeron, ABC's Dr. Richard Besser, Charles Esten, Terry Fator, Kevin Frazier, Josh Groban, Ludacris, Susan Lucci, Kesha, Alyssa Milano, Nancy O'Dell, Victor Ortiz, Chris Powell, Jordin Sparks and 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, with its iconic host 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.

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.    

At the community level, MDA is planning telethon viewing parties with hundreds of local groups to rally support for the more than 1 million Americans it helps with lifesaving medical and support services.

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.

About MDA
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world's leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to saving and improving the lives of people with muscle disease, including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases. It does so by funding worldwide research to find treatments and cures; by providing comprehensive health care services and support to MDA families nationwide; and by rallying communities to fight back through advocacy, fundraising and local engagement.

Visit mda.org and follow us at facebook.com/MDAnational and @MDAnews. Learn more about MDA's mission by watching this video.

MDA Show Strength Telethon Logo

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140827/140553

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140820/138230

SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association

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