The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) announces a revitalized brand and a renewed mission focus, and names its new National Goodwill Ambassador, during a recent event at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

Carnegie Hall was the site of the first MDA telethon in 1956. MDA held its last telethon in 2014.

MDA’s new brand includes a new logo, website, and campaign called “Live Unlimited,” per a media release from MDA.

“I think it’s great that MDA has a new look and tagline — we’ve got to keep giving strength, independence and life to all the kids and adults who are fighting muscular dystrophy and other life-threatening diseases,” states former MDA National Chairman Jerry Lewis, in a taped special message that played during the launch event.

“Today, there are signs of real progress — and progress can’t come fast enough for my kids and our MDA families. Our work is not done,” he continues.

As part of its new mission focus, MDA will double spending on research toward drug development and clinical trials, and increase the number of families who receive MDA care and support by 50% to 150,000 individuals annually by the year 2020. In the next 5 years, MDA also plans to send 20,000 kids to its weeklong MDA Summer Camps, at no charge to their families, the release explains.

In addition, MDA is introducing the MDA Family Resource Center, where individuals can receive one-on-one information and support from neuromuscular disease specialists.

“Our families spoke and we listened,” says MDA President and CEO Steven M. Derks, in the release. “Just as kids and adults with muscular dystrophy must start a new fight each day, MDA is starting a new era in our fight on their behalf, building on our rich heritage. The result is an MDA determined to accelerate progress against the harmful effects of these diseases as we engage a new generation of supporters.”

To signal a new era in which people with muscular dystrophy are living longer with diseases once considered pediatric, the MDA has also named its new National Goodwill Ambassador: 24-year-old Joe Akmakjian from Fort Collins, Colo.

Diagnoses with spinal muscular atrophy at 15 months old, he and his family were told at the time that he might not live past his 12th birthday. However, he has doubled his life expectancy, per the release.

Akmakjian’s goal will be to deepen MDA’s reach among Millennials and help champion the need for improved public policies and support for young adults with disabilities.

“My dream is to inspire all types of people — not just people with muscular dystrophy or ALS — to live beyond their perceived limitations and achieve the success inside them,” Akmakjian shares in the release.

“People often see my wheelchair and my physical limitations and ask me what I could do if I could walk. The truth is, we’re redefining what’s possible … with high hopes to inspire the world around us,” he states.

For more information, visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

[Source(s): Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, PR Newswire]