TUCSON, Ariz., March 16, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Muscular Dystrophy Association today announced that the nation's first and largest grass roots fundraising effort themed for St. Patrick's Day has just eclipsed the prior year's record of more than 20 million Americans purchasing Shamrocks to advance MDA's lifesaving mission. With some 15,000 Shamrock partner locations involved, and many continuing to sell MDA Shamrocks through the end of March, the 2011 MDA Shamrocks campaign is achieving remarkable results for local families affected by progressive muscle diseases.
"It's absolutely astounding how America responds when more than 100,000 cashiers, sales associates and servers at so many top retail and restaurant locations ask customers to buy and sign Shamrocks to help local families with muscle diseases," said Maureen McGovern, MDA Board Member and MDA Shamrocks Against Dystrophy Chair. "Together, we're sharing the luck of the Irish, to speed worldwide research seeking treatments and cures and to provide unparalleled medical services through some 200 hospital-affiliated MDA clinics nationwide."
For 29 consecutive years, creative MDA Shamrocks displays have been transforming the walls and windows of high-traffic retail locations from coast to coast. Even in a tough economy, the granddaddy of in-store charity continues to set records thanks to an impressive commitment by retailers focused on community service.
Gerald C. Weinberg, MDA President & CEO, explained the phenomenal retail industry support for Shamrocks is due to three things. "First, Shamrocks partners enjoy making tangible differences in their communities, and their support of MDA makes a huge difference for so many local children and adults with muscle diseases.
"Second, Shamrocks partners appreciate the outstanding and consistent support MDA staff and volunteers provide in every community across America.
"Third, Shamrocks partners see in-store magic daily. Employees and customers alike appreciate making a difference with Shamrocks."
Notable national and regional Shamrocks partners include: Applebee's, Burger King, CITGO, Jiffy Lube, Kroger, Lowe's Home Improvement, 7-Eleven, Valero Corner Stores, and Walgreens. Here are a few company testimonials just received for the 2011 MDA Shamrocks campaign that will crescendo on St. Patrick's Day:
"Over the past 23 campaigns, Valero's Retail division has raised more than $16 million for the MDA – an incredible amount," said Valero Energy Corporation Chairman and CEO Bill Klesse. "Last year's campaign alone was a record-breaking $1.97 million effort, and it's especially gratifying to know that the money was raised while we were still recovering from a significant economic downturn." Valero Corner Stores has about 1,000 locations participating in MDA's 2011 Shamrocks campaign.
"Our management team and their crew members are energized by MDA Shamrocks. They've met MDA families they are trying to help – simply by asking our customers to purchase Shamrocks for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It's remarkable how our employees have accepted the challenge, and with their cooperation, we have been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars during the Shamrock season," said Bill Spence, CEO, Spence Group Services Incorporated, a Burger King franchisee from Illinois.
"It's been amazing to see so many extra smiles and laughs from our teammates and our guests when they see the Shamrocks go up on our windows," said Rob Rajkowski, COO of Heartland Automotive Services, a Jiffy Lube franchise with more than 415 locations selling MDA Shamrocks in 2011. "They immediately know together they are making a difference for many within their community. It gets even more exciting around St. Patrick's Day as we celebrate and share the luck of the Irish with the MDA Shamrocks."
People also can support the 2011 MDA Shamrocks campaign by using their cell phones to text "Irish" to 20222. Within a second or two, anyone texting "Irish" to 20222 would receive a confirmation text regarding the $5 donation they'd like to make. Should they reply "yes" by texting, their $5 contribution to MDA would be added to their cell phone carrier monthly bill (message and data rates may apply), and they'd immediately receive a thank you message transmitting a special link for Shamrock wallpaper they could use to dress their cell phone screen and/or computer monitor for St. Patrick's Day.
MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related disease by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive healthcare and support services, advocacy and education. See the award-winning MDA "Make A Muscle, Make A Difference" PSA.
In addition to funding more than 330 research teams worldwide, MDA maintains a national network of some 200 hospital-affiliated clinics; orchestrates hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases; facilitates extraordinary local summer camp opportunities for thousands youngsters fighting progressive muscle diseases. Known globally for the MDA Labor Day Telethon, the Association is the first organization to earn a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association, "for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity."
SOURCE Muscular Dystrophy Association