Burgers to Beat MS Day returns to A&W today

August 25, 2016   ·   0 Comments

If you’ve been craving a Teen Burger lately, then today (Thursday) is the day to indulge yourself and give in.

For the eighth year in a row, A&W Canada has partnered with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada for their annual Teen Burger fundraiser, to raise awareness and funds for MS research.

“The funding we receive from this campaign is to help us to find a cure, and to learn more about MS, what it does, and how it affects us,” explained James Jackson, a local resident and Dufferin-Caledon Ambassador for the MS Society. “Most of all, this funding is what helps us to continue to live our lives.”

Mr. Jackson has been involved in the Orangeville community for years, but became more actively involved with the MS Society of Canada within the past year. He has been vocal about the needs and struggles of living with Multiple Sclerosis, aiming to help people understand this debilitating disease.

“One of the things that makes this so difficult is that this disease is what is called an ‘invisible illness,’” he explained. “Sometimes, I wish I could show or explain in detail how horrible it is to lose control of your own body. The A&W/MS campaign continues to have a huge impact in helping us to rise above our own bodies attacking itself. MS Canada does not receive government funding, so all of our campaigns have a major meaning and cause.”

The first campaign was held in 2009, and since then has been able to raise more than $8-million in support of world-class MS research, which the organizations claim has ‘brought us closer to a cure’. The research has also provided assistance in improving programs and services that help Canadians who have MS to live better lives until a cure can be found.

“Through our partnership with A&W, I have been astonished by the generosity of the A&W family and the support of their guests each year during the event,” said Yves Savoie, President and CEO of the MS Society of Canada. “I am so very proud of the work we do together with A&W in making real progress in MS research and improving the lives of Canadians living with MS. We could not do this without the support of the many Canadians who join us in the fight to end MS on Burgers to Beat MS Day.”

All 869 A&W restaurants across the country are hosting the Burgers to Beat MS events, aiming to unite Canadians everywhere in this cause. Many of the locations will feature A&W Root Beer float stands, music, games, and other activities.

This year, they have also brought the campaign to social media, asking Canadians to join the conversation and share their thoughts and photos to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtag #Burgers ToBeatMS. There is also a special Snapchat feature available to all Canadians today.

“We need everyone’s support to make this year’s campaign the best yet, and are asking Canadians to join us [today] to help beat MS by buying a Teen Burger, making a donation, and encouraging everyone you know to do the same,” said Paul Hollands, Chairman and CEO of A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. “I am proud of how this important fundraising initiative is strongly supported by A&W employees and our generous guests so that those suffering from MS may have access to a cure in the near future.”

Along with purchasing a Teen Burger, supporters will also be able to make a donation by rounding up their bill at the register, purchasing two-dollar paper cutouts, and giving through in-store donation mugs. All of the funds from these methods will go towards supporting activities designed to help people with MS. A&W said they will also be donating one-dollar to the MS Society for every share on Facebook (up to $20,000) of the Burgers to Beat MS video, which was launched last Thursday. The video is posted on A&W’s Facebook page.

A&W describes Burgers to Beat MS as an event that creates an opportunity for Canadians to come together to support Canadian-led efforts to better understand MS and find a cure, all while enjoying a delicious burger.

“Nobody should face any demon alone,” added Mr. Jackson. “It is my duty to help people be aware of those who are in need in our communities. It is great to see everyone who comes out to this event locally.”

When asked what it means to Mr. Jackson to see Canadians rally around a cause that affects him directly, he said the question brought tears to his eyes.

“It is amazing to see the people rise to any great cause,” he explained. “Remember, it is Canada that is looked upon by the world as the true north, strong and free. It will stay that way, as long as we stay united in our causes.”

Multiple Sclerosis is sometimes referred to as ‘Canada’s Disease’, because the highest percentage of people afflicted with MS live in Canada. Statistically, one in every 340 individuals Canada-wide suffers from MS, and it is one of the most common neurological diseases among young adults.

The disease attacks the central nervous system and affects hearing, vision, memory, balance, and mobility. It is typically diagnosed in individuals aged 15-40, and earlier in the disease, people can often experience temporary episodes of worsening symptoms, which are then accompanied by active inflammation in the brain (relapses). Later on, the disease’s progression becomes inevitable.

“I often wish I could show people the pain we go through,” said Mr. Jackson. “For me, it is all day, every day. Some are lucky enough to not suffer pain, and every case is different. I never thought I would be attacked by my own body. All I ask is that people try showing and experiencing empathy.”

While the cause of MS is still unknown, researchers are coming closer to finding the answers, thanks to funding from campaigns such as this one. In 2016, the MS Society of Canada and its affiliated MS Scientific Research Foundation (MSSRF) announced they had successfully published results of a Canadian study of treatment called immunoablation and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (IAHSCT). This treatment involves intensive chemotherapy that completely wipes out the immune system and transplants blood-forming stem cells, forming a new immune system that doesn’t attack myelin. This research showed IAHSCT halted all brain inflammation in people with early, aggressive Multiple Sclerosis, as well as reversed disability and facilitated lasting recovery.

“With A&W as a key funder, this work will provide more definitive answers regarding their use to treat persons living with both relapsing and progressive forms of MS,” concluded the MS Society in their joint press release last week.


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