MDA Opens Its 40th Annual ‘Shamrocks’ Fundraising Campaign

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by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has launched its 40th annual MDA Shamrocks fundraising campaign — one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day fundraisers in the U.S. — to raise money and to increase awareness of muscular dystrophy (MD) and related neuromuscular disorders.

Throughout February and March, thousands of participating retailers will sell MDA shamrock pin-ups to customers for $1, $5, a larger contribution of their choosing, or by people rounding up the cost of their purchase at checkout. Stores will display the shamrocks in a show of support for the more than 300,000 people in the U.S. living with neuromuscular disorders.

Donations to the #Shamrocks40 campaign can also be made online.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of retailers who partner with us year after year, and their loyal customers, who empower our families by proudly purchasing Shamrocks,” Donald S. Wood, PhD, president and CEO of MDA, said in a press release.

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This year’s partnering retailers include Citgo Petroleum Corporation, Burger King, Applebee’s, Discount Drug Mart, Fareway stores, Fastrip, Festival Foods, Haffner’s, Hardee’s, KFC, Price Chopper, Superior Grocers, Taco John’s, and Shaw’s supermarkets.

The Shamrocks campaign has raised more than $330 million for the MDA to date. The nonprofit uses the money to support its mission of improving the lives of people affected by neuromuscular disorders, including MD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), through research, resources, education, and advocacy programs.

One of the MDA’s largest programs is a summer camp for children with neuromuscular disorders that comes at no cost to their families. The MDA has also supported the development of 15 approved treatments over the past seven years. 

“When it first started in the 80’s, MDA’s Shamrocks pin-up campaign was an innovative approach to raising money by engaging local communities and businesses — it transformed the way non-profits everywhere raise money,” Wood said. “This legacy campaign has continued now for four decades, and funds both groundbreaking research and life-changing experiences such as MDA Summer Camp.”

In honor of the 40th birthday celebration, a specially designed T-shirt is being offered to those who donate $40 or more online. The availability of the shirt, created by Dustin Clark, a neuromuscular disease patient and a freelance graphic designer for the MDA, is limited, the group noted.

“I was honored to accept the assignment to design all the materials promoting such a hugely successful fundraiser like the MDA Shamrocks campaign,” Clark said. “As a member of the neuromuscular community, I’ve personally benefited from the research, care, and advocacy provided by the funds raised through this campaign. … I feel blessed to have the opportunity to use my design skills to work on a project that has such an impact on my community.”

On Saturday, March 12, MDA Let’s Play, the nonprofit’s online gaming community, will support the Shamrocks program by hosting a St. Patrick’s Day-themed game night starting at 7 p.m. ET. Those interested in participating can register here.

Nyheim Hines, a running back for the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts and the MDA’s 2022 national spokesperson, will take part in Shamrocks campaign events. Hines has family members with muscular dystrophy and is a longtime MDA supporter.

“I’m honored to continue raising awareness as the 2022 MDA National Spokesperson, especially for the 40th birthday of the iconic Shamrocks campaign! This mission is deeply important for me and I consider all MDA families, my family too,” Hines said.

“When you are diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease, being part of the MDA community brings you connections, care, and hope for a better future. Together we can bring significant change to make people’s lives better. That’s why I always say, together we fight!” he added.

Individuals can also support the campaign by creating an MDA Shamrocks Facebook fundraiser or posting pictures of their shamrock on social media using the hashtags #Shamrocks40 and #MDA.

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