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Festival of Trees to raise money for MS research

Fundraising for a cure

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

File photo

File photo

It's a unique way to kick off the holiday season while raising funds to aid in research of a disease that is all too familiar for Manitobans.

Next week's Festival of Trees is the culmination of months of hard work by one Portage family determined to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, as Canada experiences the highest rates of the disease in the world while Manitoba's rates are among the highest in the nation.

“What's happened is our daughter got diagnosed with MS just recently and we decided to do something to help out and hopefully find a cure,” says event organizer, Ron Decaire. “She's doing great. Her attitude about this whole thing has been phenomenal. She doesn't want it to define her and she doesn't want this fundraiser to be about her.”

The day is loaded with family-friendly Christmas activities with everything from sleigh rides and colouring contests to a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and even ice skating if the weather permits it.

Christmas trees, wreaths, gingerbread houses and many other appropriately-themed holiday decorations have been donated for the event and will be raffled off at the event. All funds raised will directly support the MS Society, who will have representation on hand to inform people about the illness as well as collecting donations.

“We're quite excited. It's not far away now,” he adds. “There's something going on the whole day and hopefully people will come out and enjoy it and start the Christmas season off on the right foot.”  

Living in Kingston, Ont., prior to relocating to Portage la Prairie, Decaire and family experienced something similar to the Festival of Trees, but with the help of family and friends, are putting their own spin on the event here in town.

“We decided to take a different approach on it and make it as best we can, family oriented,” he says. “I don't want this to be a sorry story or anything. We felt like we need to do something that would be beneficial and we thought this would be great.”

The event is set for Dec. 2 at the MNP Building on the Island from 10 a.m.- 4p.m.. Below is a complete outline of the day's itinerary.

10 -11 - Myxdd Bagg performance

10 Start of colouring contest

11:30-12:30 Myxdd Bagg performance

12:30-2:30 Sleigh rides

1-2:30 Christmas stories

2 - End of colouring contest

2:30-3:30 Santa and Mrs. Claus

3:30 Raffle draws

About MS

According to the MS Society of Canada, Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world, with an estimated 100,000 Canadians living with the disease. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults aged 15-40, younger children and older adults are also diagnosed with the disease.

MS is unpredictable and can cause symptoms such as extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes. Its effects can be physical, emotional and financial. Currently there is no cure, but each day researchers are learning more about what causes MS and are zeroing in on ways to prevent it.


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