The Muscular Dystrophy Association received $61.5 million in donations on Sunday during a six-hour telethon, despite the absence of MDA founder and longtime host Jerry Lewis.

The latest total was $2.6 million more than last year’s even though the telethon was much shorter than the event’s traditional 21 and a half-hour length.

Over the course of Lewis’ 45-years on the telethon, the MDA raised $1.66 billion.

“The tremendous success of the telethon, even in a tough economy where some communities are also being challenged by natural disasters, shows that America understands and appreciates the truly rapid progress being made by MDA-funded researchers worldwide,” said R. Rodney Howell, M.D., chairman of the MDA Board of Directors, in a released statement.

The telethon included performances by Celine Dion and other performers including Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum and Jennifer Lopez.

The MDA seeks to cure muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and related diseases. It also provides health care and support services, advocacy and education.

The organization funds hundreds of research projects, maintains a network of affiliated clinics and helps coordinate hundreds of support groups for families affected by neuromuscular diseases.