18 Jun 2012

History of the French Telethon

Illustration for article: History of the French Telethon
The French Telethon was imported from the US in 1986, thanks to Pierre Birambeau. He was the first to study this interesting experience overseas. In the US, it was then a 22-hour TV show, that was raising around 30 million euros.

August 1986. Pierre Birambeau is in the US with his wife and two children, amoung whom Damien, 13 years old, who suffers from Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. During his stay, he investigates about this charity marathon TV show. When he returns, the Board of Directors asks him to organize the same kind of show, based on solidarity and generosity. France 2, french public TV chanel, and Lions Club, whose members will volunteer to answer calls, become AFM-Téléthon's partners. The French Telethon was born on a 1987 December night... The show will soon make more money than the american version!

The meter rises...

On the first show, the meter was only designed for a 8 figure amount... Technicians had to paint the 9th figure on a piece of wood! The show raised 181 327 459 francs (27,6 million euro). Ever since this first Telethon, every year, AFM-Téléthon invites French people to sign a pact with scientists: together, they bet on the future.

Life changed for patients

Telethon improved patients' lives in many ways. Amazing progress was made on the medical aspects. Life expectancy has increased for patients suffering from neuromuscular diseases. The treatments, more accurate, have also improved significantly they quality of life, although lots of things still need to be done.

Thanks to the donations made through the Telethon, labs, tools, networks were created and the many advances offer hope.

A daily support

The Telethon is also an opportunity for patients to show their daily difficulties, the concrete progress made in their everyday life, the hopes that research generate. Those patients, whose situation had long been ignored, saw real changes with the Telethon : even people's way of looking at them is different today. The Telethon is also an opportunity for scientists and doctors to explain their discoveries and their projects.