LOS ANGELES, May 1 (Reuters) - The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) said Friday it will end its long-standing Labor Day telethon, aired on the ABC network, to focus on more digital fundraising efforts after the success of last year's ALS Ice Bucket challenge.
The organization's annual telethon, hosted by comedian Jerry Lewis from its inception in 1956, has seen its broadcast cut from its standard 21 and a half hours, last seen during Lewis' final hosting stint in 2010, to just two hours last year.
"In the last few years, the show was adjusted to reflect changes in viewership and donor patterns," MDA's president and chief executive, Steven M. Derks, said.
"Last summer's Ice Bucket Challenge once again affirmed for us that today's families, donors and sponsors are looking to us for new, creative and organic ways to support our mission.
The MDA aims to raise awareness and improve the lives of people suffering from muscular dystrophy, a rare muscle-wasting genetic disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other related diseases. So far, there is no cure.
The ALS Association, which funds research into ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, found a surprise fund-raising hit last year when it launched its Ice Bucket Challenge.
MDA's telethon, most recently named "Show of Strength," raised $56.9 million over the 2014 Labor Day weekend.
But the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral phenomenon that drew everyone from average citizens to celebrities nominating each other to donate to the cause or pour a bucket of ice over their heads, raised $100 million in just a month last year, the ALS Association said.
The MDA said it will be investing in digital and mobile platforms to engage with the public, and will continue sharing stories of families living with muscular dystrophy on Labor Day.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Leslie Adler)