MDA Icon Jerry Lewis To Receive Derisive Emmy-ny Award

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Angered that Jerry Lewis will receive an award for his work on behalf of people with disabilities at this year’s Emmys, Chicago residents will stage their own red carpet awards ceremony on Friday. People with disabilities in Chicago will present Lewis with an award they believe to be more fitting of his work – the Emmy-ny Award, which recognizes Lewis for the damage he has done to the disability community.

Angered that Jerry Lewis will receive an award for his work on behalf of people with disabilities at this year’s Emmys, Chicago residents will stage their own red carpet awards ceremony on Friday. People with disabilities in Chicago will present Lewis with an award they believe to be more fitting of his work – the Emmy-ny Award, which recognizes Lewis for the damage he has done to the disability community. Friday’s Emmy-ny Award Ceremony comes on the eve of the 2005 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, at which Jerry Lewis is slated to receive the prestigious Governors Award for his work with the annual Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethons.

“Jerry Lewis is the last person who should receive the Governor’s Award,” said Mike Ervin of Jerry’s Orphans, the group that organized Friday’s event. For three decades, the independent living moving has advocated to eliminate barriers that prevent people with disabilities from living independently. The Annual MDA Telethon only builds more barriers. “Far from helping, Lewis’ annual telethons tell millions of viewers that people with Muscular Dystrophy and other disabilities are pitiful individuals who are helpless to ever live independently,” Ervin said.    

Over the years, while the work of people with disabilities has increased access to equal opportunity in society, and has presented people with disabilities as average individuals who want to participate alongside non-disabled peers, Lewis’ work and his statements reflect antiquated attitudes toward the disabled. Among other damaging statements, Lewis has gone on record as saying that if you have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, “You might as well put a gun to your mouth.” He was also quoted as saying, “[If] you don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair, stay in your house.”

At the ceremony on Friday afternoon, disability advocates will present the first ever Emmy-ny to Lewis, who is scheduled to deliver a short acceptance speech via an impersonator.

The Emmy-ny Awards ceremony is scheduled for Friday, September 16 at 4:15 p.m., first in front of the Tribune Tower, 435 North Michigan (The Tribune owns WGN, which broadcasts the MDA Telethon) and then outside the office of the Muscular Dystrophy Association at 430 North Michigan Avenue.

Jerry’s Orphans was founded in 1990 in response to the repeated degradation of people with disabilities in the rhetoric of Jerry Lewis and the MDA Telethon.

For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 773-203-3913 (Thursday), Mike Ervin at 312-663-0631 (Friday AM) or Steve Drake at 708-420-0539 (Friday PM).                            

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Stephen Drake

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