MS Ireland READaTHON begins

Charity facing significant fundraising losses
  • Deborah Condon

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Ireland is calling on children and adults to take part in its annual READaTHON this month, to help raise vital funds for people affected by the neurological condition.

MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system, which causes a gradual degeneration of the nerves. This results in a progressive deterioration in various functions controlled by the nervous system, such as vision, speech and movement. Around 9,000 people in Ireland are living with the condition.

Originally launched by children's author, Roald Dahl, in 1988, the READaTHON has become MS Ireland's most anticipated annual event and this year, it is needed more than ever. Fundraised income is expected to be down by 38% this year as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic -this equates to around €1 million.

While the event has been particularly popular among school children in the past, this year, MS Ireland is also encouraging adults to take part. It has developed a new interactive website to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved.

"We are delighted that the MS READaTHON will go ahead again this year, its 33rd year. This is our biggest fundraising campaign and we simply cannot keep our services running without it. This year, it takes on a whole new level of importance as we hope to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and expected fundraising losses of over €1 million," explained MS Ireland CEO, Ava Battles.

While the MS READaTHON is set to be different to previous years, the charity emphasises that the concept has not changed. Participants are encouraged to read as much as they can during the month of November.

Readers can earn virtual reward badges and stars for the goals they achieve on the new MS READaTHON website. They can also build avatars, share their campaign on social media, and rate and review the books that they read.

"Our new MS READaTHON website is designed to enrich a school's reading culture without taking away from teachers' precious time. We are delighted to launch our brand new interactive website packed full of amazing features that we think students will love," the charity said.

Funds raised by readers will go directly to support vital services, such as the MS Ireland information line, physiotherapy and exercise classes to help people with MS remain independent, and respite care.

The MS READaTHON website can be accessed here.

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