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MDA telethon raises $61.5 million nationwide

10:24 AM, Sep 6, 2011   |    comments
Nygel Lythgoe was joined by co-hosts Nancy O'Dell, Jann Carl and Alison Sweeney. (By Richard Cartwright, AP)
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By Lorena Blas, USA TODAY

Despite the absence of longtime veteran host Jerry Lewis, the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon's broadcast went on and had what the MDA is saying its best showing since 2008.

So You Think You Can Dance judge Nygel Lythgoe was joined by co-hosts Nancy O'Dell, Jann Carl and Alison Sweeney during the six-hour live broadcast on Sunday night. According to MDA officials, the 46th annual Labor Day weekend event raised nearly $61.5 million, about $2.6 million more than last year, reports the Associated Press. The telethon was shortened from more than 20 hours of broadcast time last year.

And while during the show, Lythgoe and Carl referred to Lewis as "retired," the AP reported that Lythgoe said after the broadcast ended on the East Coast that he thought the 85-year-old actor would show up either during the telecast or earlier to film a taped segment of his signature song, You'll Never Walk Alone.

Lewis has not publicly discussed his split from the MDA, where he no longer serves as chairman. Remarks during the show were the first time the MDA has addressed Lewis' departure since it was announced, and telethon spokesman Jim Brown declined further comment about the split, according to the AP.

During the broadcast, Lythgoe paid homage to Lewis and said, "It isn't possible, Jerry, to replace you, sir."

USA TODAY

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