MS Society of Canada Opens 45th Read-a-Thon Fundraiser on Jan. 27

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by Yedida Y Bogachkov PhD |

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The MS Society of Canada is hosting its annual MS Read-a-Thon, a fundraiser that supports vital services to the multiple sclerosis (MS) community and to disease research while helping children discover the joys of reading.

For a 45th year, the program invites children, individually or in teams and in classrooms, to participate in a reading marathon. Parents, other family members, and friends can donate an amount of their choice to a child’s page.

This year’s virtual Read-a-Thon, running from Jan. 27 through Feb. 28, hopes to raise $150,000 for the more than 90,000 Canadians living with MS. It kicked off on Jan. 22 with the book club event “Bookworm Buddies.”

“By participating, you’re joining hundreds of children and families who are raising much-needed funds and making a difference in the lives of people impacted by MS, one book at a time,” Kyla Arsenault, senior director of Community Fundraising for the MS Society of Canada, said in a press release.

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Throughout the month, participants can read as much as they want from a favorite book to help raise funds and support the MS community. Registration is free, and children can either register as part of their school, individually or as teams.

Adults can also choose to be readers.

To date, 54 people have registered to take part in “A Million Epic Adventures for One Incredible Cause” — as this year’s event is known — and it has raised CA$8,266, the society reports.

A new and interactive Read-a-Thon website will allow children to track the books they read. They can also customize avatars and earn badges as they reach fundraising milestones. Those interested can find links on an FAQ page  and guidance with registration and participation for parents, caregivers, and teachers.

“I have fond memories of taking part in this iconic event as a kid back in the late 1970s so I’m incredibly excited that a new generation of Canadians are embarking on reading adventures and embracing the MS Read-a-Thon challenge through our interactive website,” Arsenault said.

Money raised in the Read-a-Thon supports various MS Society programs, including the its 1:1 Peer Support Program that connects people affected by MS with others, both patients and caregivers.

Funds also go to “support equipment purchases, repair and/or the permanent loan of mobility equipment or safety devices” needed by patients in their homes, the MS Society states.

“Bookworm Buddies,” this year’s opening event on its YouTube channel, featured Read-a-Thon ambassadors, current participants, and last year’s top fundraisers.

It was hosted by MS Read-a-Thon Junior Ambassador Ainara Alleyne, a 12-year-old living in Ontario, whose “Ainara’s Bookshelf” Instagram page focuses on children’s books featuring characters who are Black and of color.

During the Jan. 22 event, Alleyne interviewed David Bouchard, an Indigenous children’s author and MS Read-a-Thon ambassador. Bouchard read from his latest book, “We Learn from the Sun,”  based on the seven sacred teachings universal to most First Nations people.

The event is still available for viewing here.

Alleyne will continue to be active with the program throughout February, hosting interviews with other MS Read-a-Thon ambassadors, including the children’s authors Ashley Spires and Mireille Messier. She will also share recommendations for the Read-a-Thon’s Bookworm Buddies to add to their reading lists.

“I’ve participated in MS Read-a-Thon so many times through school, and now I am so excited and honoured to be a part of it as their junior ambassador,” she said. “I’d encourage you to register your child for MS Read-a-Thon, too and come along for the adventure.”

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