My stepson and I were at the launch of this year’s MS READaTHON on Tuesday, at the Winding Stair Bookshop in Dublin. A big event packed into a small shop, the place was stuffed with authors, kids, PR people, photographers, television people, children’s entertainers, and folks from the MS Society and the book trade . . . along with some rather startled innocent bystanders who had come for what they thought would be a quiet browse.
The campaign was officially launched by Evanna Lynch – also known as Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films – but a number of other well-known faces put in an appearance, with Derek Landy, Claudia Carroll, Marisa Mackle, Judy May Murphy and the ubiquitous Sarah Webb all showing up to give their support.
The READaTHON is a brilliant campaign – you just have to get sponsored for reading a load of books in the time given. Where else can you raise money for a good cause, just by entertaining yourself?
No running a mini-marathon, or a doing a triathlon, or trying to break a world record or getting your head shaved or your hair dyed a daft colour. You just have to read the same kind of stuff you read all the time anyway. Kids, if haven’t signed up yet in your school or library, do it today (or at least, when you get back to school). You’ll be entered into a competition for some serious prizes too.
Here’s a little info on Multiple Sclerosis: It’s a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system). The central nervous system acts like a computer, sending electrical messages along the nerves to various parts of the body. These electrical messages affect all the body’s functions, such as movement or thought. Most healthy nerve fibres are covered by this stuff called myelin, a fatty coating which helps the flow of messages.
In MS, the myelin breaks down or becomes scarred. This distorts or even blocks the flow of messages, resulting in the symptoms of MS. There are loads of different symptoms, such as pain, black-outs, problems with movement – even your ability to just think clearly can be affected. It hits different people in different ways. Many people explain MS like a faulty electrical flex on a kettle. If the plastic on the outside of the flex breaks, it exposes the wires underneath making them more vulnerable to damage.
You can learn more about MS here. But even if it’s just the reading you’re interested in, go sign up for the campaign, raise some money, have a good time doing it, and help some people who are having a tough time. Congrats and good luck to everyone involved!