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The Backstreet Boys opened the 48th annual MDA Show of Strength Telethon tonight with their newest single "In A World Like This" on ABC television stations across the country. (PRNewsFoto/Muscular Dystrophy Association)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Muscular Dystrophy Association's nationally broadcast 48th annual telethon and related fundraising efforts have raised $59.6 million in contributions over the Labor Day weekend.

The two-hour "MDA Show of Strength" aired Sunday on ABC, and raised about a million dollars more than last year.

MDA President/CEO Steven M. Derks said the money raised will go toward treatment of muscular dystrophy and related diseases, and funding of research to find a cure.

A release from the association said the total amount raised came from pledges during the show and through midnight Monday, as well as money raised by MDA sponsors.

Celebrities such as "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and "Brady Bunch" mom Florence Henderson were part of the show's lineup this year, along with the Backstreet Boys, singer Paula Abdul and other entertainers.

The telethon was the third since comedian Jerry Lewis's 45-year role as host ended. Kelli Park, a spokeswoman for the Tucson-based MDA, said the 2012 telethon raised $58.7 million last year.

Associated Press,

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