In February and March each year, something strange happens. Green and gold paper Shamrocks start blooming all over participating businesses, including convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and other retailers.
The 2015 Shamrocks Against Dystrophy campaign marks the thirty-third year of the MDA Shamrocks fundraising campaign. Retailers all over the U.S.A. sell green Shamrocks for $1.00 and gold Shamrocks for $5.00. The program runs from mid-February through Saint Patrick’s Day in March.
Along with raising funds for the MDA, this program also helps to raise public awareness regarding the MDA, the organization’s services, and neuromuscular disease. Donations to the Shamrocks Against Dystrophy Program fund research, education, summer camps, and the clinical and other services the Muscular Dystrophy Association funds. The MDA is a leading organization in research, education, and treatment for the over 40 neuromuscular diseases included in its programs.
The fundraiser began in 1982 in Grand Rapids, MI, and became a national fundraiser in 1983. It is now the largest charity fundraiser associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the U.S. In 2011, the Shamrock campaign highlighted the MDA's new motto "Make a Muscle, Make a difference" for the first time.
In 2014, Shamrocks Against Dystrophy raised $21 million dollars. About 30,000 retail locations participated. The number one participating retailer in 2014 was Lowe’s Home Improvement stores, raising $7.4 million. In 2013, the program had a record-breaking year, raising about $23.3 million for the MDA’s programs.
Maureen McGovern, successful recording artist, acted as the national chairperson for this program. Ms. McGovern also served as a member of the MDA’s Board of Directors and earned the MDA Director’s Award, the MDA’s top philanthropic achievement award. She became involved with the MDA after her niece was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease.
Individuals may become involved as a “Shambassador.” Contact your local MDA office to ask if there is a need for Shambassadors in your area. You can also participate in Shamrocks Against Muscular Dystrophy by purchasing a Shamrock at a local business or online (see web address below).
Support your local businesses that participate in Shamrocks Against Dystrophy. Remember to say “thank you” to these businesses and individuals who participate in this important fundraiser. You might even share your own story of how the Muscular Dystrophy Association has helped you or someone that you love.
Albrecht, D., (2012). Getting Involved: Shamrocks. Quest 19:1. Retrieved from http://quest.mda.org/article/getting-involved-shamrocks on 1/23/15.
Oliveras, R., (2013). MDA Shamrocks Program Raises More Than $23.3 Million — and Counting — for Children and Adults Fighting Muscle Disease. MDA website. Retrieved from http://mda.org/media/press-releases/mda-shamrocks-program-raises-more-233-million-and-counting-children-and-adults on 1/23/15.
Quest Staff, (2015). It’s Shamrocks Season: Go green by buying shamrocks to help MDA conquer muscle disease. Access MDA Winter 2005. Retrieved from http://quest.mda.org/article/access-mda-winter-2015 on 1/23/15.
Weinberg, G., (2011). Keeping in Touch Spring 2011. Quest 18:2. Retrieved from http://quest.mda.org/article/keeping-touch-spring-2011 on 2/8/2014.
Shamrock images courtesy of the MDA. Used with permission. You can download a Shamrock at https://secure.mdausa.org/myspace/shamrock/ShamrockImages.aspx