MS Readathon Launch

30 years of the MS Readathon celebrated with Felicity Dahl

Proudly supported by Heinz, over 10,000 Irish kids are set to embark on a one-month reading marathon this October in aid of MS Ireland

The 30th MS Readathon launched on Monday September 11th with Felicity Dahl marking the milestone for the sponsored reading initiative, along with official proud sponsors, Heinz. Felicity’s late husband, Roald Dahl launched the first ever MS Readathon in 1988, beginning three decades of adventures in reading. More than 10,000 young readers in schools around the country took part last year, reading 87,000 books in total and raising funds for people with Multiple Sclerosis in their community. 

Joining Felicity Dahl at the launch of the 30th MS Readathon was ambassador, Michelle Hanley, 27, from Cork who is living with MS, and her two children, Abbey and Alex. Multiple Sclerosis Ireland is inviting schools and home readers to sign up for the 30th MS Readathon. The reading month will take place from October 13th to November 13th 2017. Please visit to find out more.

Image removed.Felicity Dahl, speaking at the launch of the 30th MS Readathon: “Roald once said, 'if you can learn to treat books as your friends when you are young, you will always be able to cope with the tougher [more serious] ones in later life.' Over the past 30 years, MS Readathon has encouraged children all across Ireland to make friends with books and the reading habit whilst raising funds for a highly worthwhile cause. Roald helped to launch the very first MS Readathon in Ireland and I am delighted to be following in his rather giant footsteps to help launch this year’s MS Readathon.” 

Some of Ireland’s leading authors and illustrators have also provided great support to the MS Readathon, including Sarah Webb, Cecelia Ahern, Nicola Pierce, Judi Curtin, Alan Early, Anna Carey, Roisin Meaney, Jon Berkeley, Oisin McGann, PJ Lynch, Matt Griffin, Sheila O’Flanagan, Claudia Carroll, Marisa Mackle, and Pauline McLynn.

Cecelia Ahern, author, praised the initiative: “MS Readathon has been so influential in encouraging children to read over the past thirty years. Reading is so important because it broadens our imaginations, and imagination is so important because it give us the opportunity to envision new possibilities, charges our creativity, and enhances our life. It helps us to ask two very important words...what if? If we’re always asking then we’re always thinking in new ways.”

The 30th MS Readathon encourages children to open a wonderful world of adventure and imagination through reading for a great cause.

Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland commented: “We are very grateful to the young readers, teachers and families who have helped us to reach our 30th year, a significant milestone for MS Ireland’s key annual fundraising campaign to support vital services for people with Multiple Sclerosis. We are delighted to welcome our new sponsor, Heinz.”

Emily O’Kane, Marketing Manager Kraft Heinz added: “The MS Readathon has been central to the school calendar for Irish families for years, and we’re delighted to be a part of this celebration. Our own classic products fuel great-tasting mealtimes for the whole family, encouraging children to expand their imagination in new ways. The convenience of our food allows parents the time to join their kids on all kinds of adventures, culinary and literary! The movement of young readers around the country joining this fantastic cause is something to be really proud of. Here’s to the next 30 years!”

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More than 9,000 people are living with MS in Ireland, with thousands more family members affected. Multiple Sclerosis, meaning ‘many scars’, is the most common neurological disease of young adults in Ireland. MS affects the motor, sensory and cognitive functioning of the body and is usually diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age. There is currently no known cause or cure for the condition. MS symptoms include impaired mobility and vision, severe fatigue and cognitive difficulties. Three times more women than men are diagnosed with MS. 

Funds raised by young readers around the country directly support vital services, for example the MS Ireland Information Line, enabling one-to-one support for those newly diagnosed, physiotherapy and exercise classes to help people with MS remain independent, and respite care.

To increase awareness about Multiple Sclerosis for young readers, MS Ireland introduced MS schools ambassadors. People living with MS visit their local schools and talk about the complexity of the condition and the nature of relapses, or attacks when MS symptoms flare up.