TOLMAN MDA “Tradition of Caring” Returns to the Hingham Community Center

Jay Tolman and Aaden Bessette

September 2, 2021 Submitted by the Tolman Family

Sunday September 5th
11 am – 4 pm
70 South St
Hingham, MA

As Labor Day weekend rapidly approaches, the Tolman Family and their “Telethon Team” are making final preparations for the 45th annual MDA “Telethon” Party to raise funds to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

As Covid-19 continues to threaten people around the world, children and adults with neuromuscular disease face higher risks to their health and the very negative effects of isolation. In these tremendously difficult times, there is so much uncertainty. But one thing is certain - the support of the community is needed more than ever so MDA can continue to provide much-needed resources now and after the pandemic.

Last year Covid-19 caused something the Tolmans never thought they’d see until there was a cure - the cancellation of their event. Feeling they could not accept a year without a Tolman “Telethon” party they pivoted and conducted a very successful virtual event via Zoom. This year for their 45th anniversary celebration, the Tolmans are thrilled to have their event return to the Hingham Community Center!

Every day, children are born with muscular dystrophy and adults are diagnosed with ALS and other life-threatening diseases that rob them of their most basic freedoms – the freedom to walk, talk, eat, hug their loved-ones, and ultimately the freedom to live.

1966 was the first 21-hour national Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.  How many remember watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon over the years? The Tolman “Telethon” event was recognized nationally and featured on the Jerry Lewis Telethon in the late 90’s. What started out as a small MDA fundraising party with a handful of Jay’s friends that raised $50, has grown and to-date raised over $655,000 for MDA. The Tolman MDA “Telethon” event has become a family and community staple and tradition. It began in Jay’s mother’s backyard in 1977 and after outgrowing Pleasant Street continued at the Hingham Community Center in 1988 and at Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham since 2011.

For many years Jay returned from Hollywood, CA to organize the MDA event in Hingham, then for 17 years he and his family would caravan up from Princeton, NJ. Living in Cohasset for 12 years and now residing in the Pinehills has made for a much less stressful journey. Tolman says “I grew up in Hingham and our “Telethon” has its roots in Hingham. This is where it will always be held. It’s hard to believe we’re in the 5th decade of our MDA “Telethon” event. So many wonderful memories and caring people have gotten involved with our efforts and support the goals of the MDA. With the support of my wife, Jodi, and our three amazing children, Charlie, Chloe, and Jack, and the unending support and compassion of our amazing, “Telethon Team,” our fight continues.  Our desire and commitment is to help MDA find treatments and cures for the forty three neuromuscular diseases such as Duchene and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Our tradition of caring continues for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.”

If you would like to learn more about the Tolman MDA “Telethon” Party, the history of this event, join the fun, or donate and join our team, contact Jay Tolman at [email protected] or visit

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care and support services, advocacy and education.

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