The bronze medal-winning U.S. men's team from the 2008 Olympics will make an appearance during the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual telethon this weekend.
The six-member team taped its segment Friday at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the broadcasting site of MDA's 43rd annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.
Muscular dystrophy, which comes in many forms, is a progressive diseased characterized by skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins and the death of muscle cells and tissue.
"As gymnasts we know how important it is to have healthy muscles and nerves," team member Jonathan Horton said in the segment. "And we know that muscular dystrophy is threatening the health and well-being of tens of thousands of children and adults across the united states."
Established in 1966, the Jerry Lewis telethon has helped raise awareness for MDA. In 2007, the telethon received a record $63.8 million in donations and pledges.
"We talked about how grateful we were to be there, with MDA affecting so many lives across the country and showing our support by making a pledge," team member Raj Bhavsar told IG on Friday.
2008 U.S. Olympic team members Joey Hagerty, Raj Bhavsar, Kevin Tan, Justin Spring, Jonathan Horton and Sasha Artemev pose with Gerald Weinberg, president and CEO of the Muscular Dystrophy Association; and Steve Stallworth, Rich Niederman and George Lozano of the South Point Hotel & Casino.
All six members of the team — Sasha Artemev, Bhavsar, Joey Hagerty, Horton, Justin Spring and Kevin Tan — are currently in Las Vegas, rehearsing for the 38-city tour of Gymnastics Superstars. The tour kicks off Sept. 7 in Reno, Nev.
"It's awesome," said Bhavsar, who described the show as "high-energy." "Everyone is excited to be here. We're very happy to finish with celebrating our success across the country. We're really close, almost a brotherhood."
Two of the team members in Beijing — Bhavsar and Artemev — were originally team alternates but moved into the lineup after late withdrawals from the injured Paul Hamm and Morgan Hamm. The team placed sixth in the qualifying, but rallied in team finals to win an unexpected bronze.
Bhavsar arrived home in Houston last week, where he was met family and friends, and cameras from all the local news stations.
"To set foot back home completed a journey for me," he said. "It has been more than a dream, it has been like a fairy tale. Sometimes I still can't believe it. That medal was more than I expected."