MS Ireland launches the MS Readathon, Ireland’s oldest fundraiser, at the National Print Museum

Monday, 25th September 2023, MS Ireland launched the MS Readathon at the Irish Print Museum today with RTE’s Rick O’Shea, children’s authors Alan Nolan and Nicola Pierce, MS Readathon Ambassador Shirley Keane O’Brien and 2nd and 3rd class children from John Scottus primary school.

Print museum launch

MS Ireland is pleased to announce that the MS Readathon is back for its 36th year and will take place for the month of November.  MS Ireland is asking thousands of readers young and old to take part in raising awareness and vital funds to support the 10,000 people living with MS, the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting young adults in Ireland.

The MS Readathon is Ireland’s biggest sponsored reading initiative when young readers in schools throughout Ireland raise funds for vital services. The campaign is MS Ireland’s oldest and most anticipated event each year, originally launched by Roald Dahl in 1988 and has grown ever since.

Every year, the MS Readathon raises thousands of euros whilst assisting children to greatly improve their literacy skills and encourage participants to foster a lasting love of reading. Anybody young and old can sign up to participate from here.

The fundraising campaign has been popular amongst the schoolchildren of Ireland, but over the last few years MS Ireland is encouraging ‘grown up’ readers to take part and get their offices, clubs and families to rediscover their love of reading.

MS Readathon Ambassador Shirley Keane O’Brien, from Co.Clare, has been through a difficult few years from getting her multiple sclerosis diagnosis to “embarking on a very scary, often frustrating and confusing journey. It took me a long while to accept my diagnosis and to figure out my next steps”.

Shirley felt that she was losing control of her life she took a break from full time work and became less social. She felt very isolated for a period of time. “I spent a year or so on a roller coaster of emotions trying to learn about my MS and figure out how I could take back control”.

“I found MS Ireland which was crucial. They were so positive and helpful. I go to their social events now. They provide physiotherapy and psychological support, as well as really good information.

“I’m only delighted to be the ambassador and help raise awareness of the MS Readathon. I remember it from the kids doing it in primary school. Now I’ll be doing it and loving every minute of it”.

Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland said, “For many children, the MS Readathon is the first time that they connect with books and literature and develop a lifelong love of reading. The MS Readathon is so important to MS Ireland and the MS community. It is our biggest fundraising campaign, and we simply cannot keep our services running without it.

“We look forward to children, parents, teachers, and readers of all ages getting stuck into thousands of books throughout the month of November and supporting the 10,000 people in Ireland living with MS and their families”.

Speaking at the launch RTE’s Rick O’Shea, who is synonymous with books, said "I wouldn't be who I am if I hadn't found other worlds and gotten inside other heads when I was a kid as a result of reading pretty much everything I could get my hands on.  This hasn't changed, I still do that to this day.  The MS Readathon is brilliant both to encourage kids to read a little more and maybe even to get adults back into the saddle".

Nicola Pierce said at the launch “As a children's writer, my first and constant goal is to share my love of books and reading. The books I read as a child are pretty much why I am doing what I do today. First, there were lots of Enid Blyton books that got me hooked on stories. So, the MS Readathon is a huge favourite of mine and I feel very privileged to be a part of it”. 

The children’s author Alan Nolan said at the launch “A book is like Doctor Who's Tardis, it can bring you anywhere in time and space – from the deepest oceans to the darkest rainforest, and from the Roman Empire at its height to the rocky surface of the moon – but more importantly, reading can give you a deeper understanding of other peoples' lives. You can pop a book in your pocket but, much like the Tardis, every book is bigger on the inside. I am delighted to be supporting this year's MS Readathon”.


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