The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon has been on the air for 44 years. I vividly remember watching it with my parents decades ago as it was somewhat of a family tradition. Years later, I remember continuing this emotional tradition with my own children. One year I even had the privilege of hosting several television remote segments of the telethon from a 24-hour marathon at our local Marriott hotel.
This year I had occasion to watch a great deal of the telethon as I worked on a project in my home office. As always, there was an abundance of talent offering a variety of entertainment in an effort to raise funds for “Jerry’s Kids.”
Due to my focus on the computer, most of the telethon was little more than background noise which served to keep me awake as the hours began to mount. Suddenly, a sound emerged from my TV which simply couldn’t be ignored. I quickly glanced at the screen to see four young girls singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” I was instantly mesmerized by their performance. Obviously, the live audience in Las Vegas felt the same way as they gave this group a standing ovation for several minutes.
The name of the group was The Cactus Cuties, and they certainly were! The four young ladies hail from Lubbock, Texas, where they got their start at the Cactus Theater. A large number of young talented kids have been performing there since 1994. The original Cactus Cuties came together in 2001 and consisted of seven talented youngsters between the ages of four and seven. None of the four existing “Cuties” on this year’s telethon was in that original group.
Today, even at this young age, these “Cuties” generate a beautiful harmony and charismatic presence that have led them to evolve into seasoned veterans. Many of their songs can be seen on YouTube and their arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” garnered five million hits in only three months, touching hearts all over the world. In addition to the telethon, they have been featured on The 700 Club, numerous NBA, MLB, and NFL games, and many high-profile military events. In December of 2008, they received an invitation from The White House to appear before President and Mrs. Bush.
At one time, there were as many as 19 Cactus Cuties, but through the years for various reasons, the group has evolved and been molded into the existing four members, Baylee Barrett (age 14), Andi Kitten (age 12), Blaire Elbert (age 12), and Madeline Powell (age 9). These four girls have been members of the Cactus Cuties for just shy of six years.
In a society which forbids our children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school, these youngsters are instilling a pride and feeling of patriotism in the hearts of millions of Americans … something which has been so obviously lacking in our current chaotic environment.
I watch their performance and feel secure that our future is in good hands. At the same time, I feel enormous guilt at the burden placed on their generation by the greed and stupidity of ours. Watch this short video of an earlier performance when there were five members, and if you don’t experience a lump in your throat, a tear in your eye, or a flutter in your heart—seek help immediately!