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Author Spires inspired to support MS Read-a-Thon

By Don Fennell

Published 12:27 PST, Fri February 19, 2021

Like the old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” The Most Magnificent Thing centers around the idea of perseverance. And if ever there was a time that is needed it is now—in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The story of a little girl and her best friend’s (her dog) quest to build the most magnificent thing, the much-loved children’s book encourages children not to give up on their dreams.

The book is the creative genius of award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires, who says it is probably her most personal work to date.

“What human being doesn’t have that struggle, when the thing in your mind doesn’t match what you are trying to do physically?” she asks. “It really applies to any challenge you face in your life. I think that’s why (the book has been so widely embraced).”

Spires, who has deep roots in Richmond, is also lending her voice to this month’s MS Read-a-Thon in support of people living with multiple sclerosis. 

“I have a huge personal attachment,” she explains. “One of my best buddies (award-winning writer and film maker Jason DaSilva) going through high school and college, as well as Emily Carr (University of Art + Design), was diagnosed when he was just 26. I watched as his body began to betray him, but he (remains) a extraordinary human being.”

DaSilva has gone on to win Emmy Awards for documenting his fight against MS, so Spires says it was a “no-brainer” when she was approached to participate in this campaign.

Additionally, Spires says getting kids to read more—while growing their knowledge and understanding of MS—can only be beneficial.

“This is a disease not enough people know about, and that affects more and more individuals,” she says. “Admittedly, I knew very little before Jason was diagnosed. I knew about ALS because my family was hit with that as well. The similarity between the two is that is steals their body from them. And is there anything more horrific than that?”

Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world. On average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed every day. MS is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord). It is considered an episodic disease meaning that the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and are often followed by periods of wellness. Most people are diagnosed with MS between the ages of 20 and 49 and the unpredictable effects of the disease will last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides information, support and advocacy to people affected by MS, and funds research to find the cause and cure for the disease, bringing us closer to a world free of MS. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information, to get involved, or to support Canadians affected by MS by making a donation.

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