The Telethon charity television marathon encourages solidarity on December 3 and 4, 2021 for its 35th edition.
The Telethon is a charity event that provides the means for the AFM-Telethon association (the French Association against Myopathies) to continue its fight against genetic diseases. It was made possible thanks to the initiative of two fathers whose sons suffer from myopathy, Bernard Barataud (President of the AFM) and Pierre Birambeau (Development Director).
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The history of the Telethon
At the request of Bernard Barataud and with the approval of the AFM Board of Directors, Pierre Birambeau went to the United States in 1986 with his family to study the Telethon. Bernard and Pierre came up with proposals for adapting, in France, the television marathon organized, since 1966, by the comedian Jerry Lewis, in the United States. They succeeded in convincing the directors of Antenne 2 (now France 2) to adapt the program for French television.
The first Telethon was launched on Friday, December 4, 1987 at 8:30 p.m. on Antenne 2, live from the Radio France studios. For 28 hours non-stop, Michel Drucker, Claude Sérillon, Gérard Holtz and Jacques Chancel took turns on the air with sponsor Jerry Lewis. The show was a success and the amount raised exceeded 175 million francs (29.7 million euros), three times the amount hoped for at the time. From this first edition, the associative world, sports federations and companies spontaneously mobilized by organizing cultural and sports events in cities throughout France.
Since then, the success of the Telethon has not wavered, testifying to the loyalty of the French people to this event which combines entertainment, information and popular mobilization. Many actors and actresses, singers and sports champions have played the game by becoming sponsors of the program. In 2006, the counter reached its highest level, with 106 696 532 € with Gérard Jugnot and Thierry Lhermitte as sponsors.
“Genetic diseases were destroying the lives of our children and our families. To fight them, we had nothing: neither means, nor treatments. There was no question of resigning ourselves and we created the Telethon. We wanted to give life to research that did not exist. We wanted to revolutionize medicine. Year after year, thanks to your faithful support, we have succeeded in doing so,” explains Laurence Tiennot-Herment, President of the AFM-Téléthon.
The strength to heal
This year, the AFM has mobilized around the theme “The strength to heal“, referring to the strength of families who fight daily against the disease, but also to the strength of researchers, volunteers, doctors, donors and partners of the Telethon. The donations collected during the Telethon will be used for research on gene therapy. This is an innovative treatment that allows, thanks to a single injection of a “gene-drug”, to stop the natural evolution of rare diseases. To accelerate the development of treatments for rare diseases, the AFM-Telethon has also created its own laboratories such as Genethon (gene therapy), I-Stem (research on stem cells and cell therapy for monogenic diseases) and the Institute of Myology (research and medical consultations on muscle and its diseases).
This year, the Telethon returns after the digital edition of 2020, with the singer Soprano as its godfather. Several events are planned in France as every year, including a race at the Stade de France on December 4, the “LoveRun“. To make a donation, call 36 37. More information on the Telethon website.
Featured photo : © Telethon
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