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The Telethon, a cash machine launched on a bluff in 1987

2023-12-08T06:08:17.902Z

Highlights: The Telethon, a cash machine launched on a bluff in 1987. In its thirty-six years of existence, the television marathon dedicated to rare genetic diseases has raised nearly €3 billion. The "wretched" dreamed of a few million francs, 50 at most. Pledges will reach €181 million, and donations actually received will reach nearly €195 million, i.e. €30 million. An unexpected success that forced the organizers to change their strategy. The organizers of the French Association Against Muscular Dystrophy (AFM) are still in charge of the telethon.


STORY - In its thirty-six years of existence, the television marathon dedicated to rare genetic diseases has raised nearly €3 billion and financed decisive therapeutic advances. A success built on the anger of a handful of parents of myopathic children.


"These French people are shabby!" At the beginning of December 1987, in Paris, the comedian Jerry Lewis thunders on his way back to the hotel. Godfather of an American telethon for twenty years, he has just left the set of his little French brother, who has just been born, the first of its kind in Europe. Despite the efforts of the hosts of Antenne 2 to bring this strange television fair to life, the counter of pledges is not rising. Bernard Barataud, then president of the French Association Against Muscular Dystrophy (AFM), rushed to the call center run by volunteers from Lions Clubs. "The phones were flashing all over the place, and the amount of the pledges was just struggling to get back to the TV set!", he told Le Figaro in 2014.

The "wretched" dreamed of a few million francs, 50 at most. Pledges will reach €181 million, and donations actually received will reach nearly €195 million, i.e. €30 million. An unexpected success that forced the organizers...

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Source: lefigaro

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