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Retailers Hit Fundraising Record for Shamrocks Against Dystrophy

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The spirit of St. Patrick's Day is alive and well as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) reported some 10,000 retail locations participating in its 2010 Shamrocks Against Dystrophy fundraiser helped this year's effort become the most successful in the event's 27-year history.

The grassroots initiative with a St. Patrick's Day theme has raised more than $20 million to advance the MDA's mission. More shamrock contributions are expected by the end of the month.

"Record numbers of people are sharing the luck of the Irish by purchasing and signing shamrocks at their favorite restaurants, grocery and convenience stores," said Maureen McGovern, national chairperson for the Shamrocks Against Dystrophy campaign. "Despite the difficult economy, millions of Americans are helping families affected by muscle diseases by celebrating St. Patrick's Day in a most meaningful way."

Since mid-February, thousands of retail locations -- including Valero and other c-store operators -- have made their walls and windows green and gold with festive paper shamrock mobiles bearing the names of customers who contributed $1 or $5 to help MDA in its efforts.

The nation's first mobile giving program, Shamrocks Against Dystrophy owes its success to tens of thousands of cashiers, store associates, waiters and waitresses, who ask hundreds of thousands of customers daily if they'd like to buy a shamrock to help "Jerry's kids."

"It's absolutely amazing to see how the gentle ask to buy a shamrock helps nurture an even closer bond between the employee and customers," said Gerald C. Weinberg, MDA president and CEO. "Shamrocks are about having fun while helping families in need. And, the amazing in-store shamrocks displays, with the names of so many caring people present, quietly challenge every customer to make a difference. Shamrocks are infectious."

The 2010 national campaign, which concludes at the end of March, is the nation's first fundraising effort to recognize donors' text-messaging contributions by cell phone with an electronic badge of honor.

"There are more than 250 million cell phone subscribers in the United States," Weinberg said. "So it's really great that people can make a difference by simply texting 'Irish' to 20222."

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and related diseases by funding worldwide research.

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