‘I will not let Multiple Sclerosis define me’

World MS Day 2020 takes place tomorrow, May 30, to raise awareness for the 9,000 people in Ireland living with the debilitating neurological condition. Here, MS Ireland tell us about their plan to mark the day
‘I will not let Multiple Sclerosis define me’

2.3 million people live with MS world-wide, including 9,000 people in Ireland.

THE theme for World MS Day 2020-2022, which runs tomorrow, May 30, is ‘connections’. The MS Connections campaign is all about building community connection, self-connection and connections to quality care.

Multiple Sclerosis Ireland said the campaign is about challenging social barriers and stigma that can leave people affected by MS feeling lonely and isolated,

Building communities that support and nurture people affected by MS

Promoting self-care and healthy living with MS

Lobbying decision-makers for better services and effective treatment for people with MS

It is an opportunity to advocate for better services, celebrate support networks and champion self-care.

Ava Battles, Chief Executive of MS Ireland said: “World MS Day is the MS movement’s annual campaign to raise awareness of the condition and to support and connect the 2.3 million people living with it worldwide. It is a day to celebrate global solidarity and hope for the future. The theme for the 2020 World MS Day campaign is connections.

“The MS Connections campaign is all about building a community connection. Covid-19 pandemic is hitting the world and affecting our lives in an unprecedented way. Populations all over the world are locked down, health systems have become restrained, borders are closed, and the economy begins its downward spiral into a global recession. Now more than ever, our connections are so important.

“We all need to feel supported, valued, and loved. Those who have good relationships are happier, healthier and live longer than those who report feeling lonely. Let’s work together in May to ensure we build on our connections with each other.”


Niall McGahon, aged 39, of County Galway, has been living with MS the past five years and is the ambassador for this year’s World MS Day.

“MS arrived on our doorstep in 2014 with all its baggage. It invaded every space in every room, taking up time in every family activity and is on my shoulder when I work as well. It’s part of my good days and very much “active” in my bad days.

“I have, over the past 5 1/2 years, as a form of my coping mechanism allowed a lot of the changes visible or invisible to pass into my subconsciousness and just become the norm. Has this been the right thing to do? I have said from the outset, as have many, that MS will not define me.

“As we begin to face a country that is very much different the weeks and months ahead, the 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS will not be alone.

“World MS Day is such an important day for me and everyone who is living with MS as it shines a spotlight on our lives and the issues we may be facing. The connections theme this year is really poignant, as we start apart from each other during this time, it makes us realise, just how important that connection is with your community.”

Virtual Balloon Race 2020, #9000balloons

World MS Day 2020 is set to be a very different affair to previous years. The international day of awareness and fundraising is met with a whole new set of challenges this year. Now, more than ever the MS community need support and advice. In light of this, a decision was taken by MS Ireland that this year’s World MS Day should go off with a BANG! (Virtually). There are over 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS and so MS Ireland are launching a Virtual Balloon Race campaign. Using algorithms, live weather systems and Google maps, the virtual balloon racing platform allows balloons to behave, fly and burst just like real balloons. The balloons will be virtually launched from MS Ireland’s Care Centre in Bushy Park tomorrow at 12.00 noon. More information visit: https://msi.rentaballoonrace.com


Multiple Sclerosis - meaning ‘many scars’- the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting young adults in Ireland. It affects the motor, sensory and cognitive functioning of the body and is usually diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age. The impact of MS on individuals, their families and the community can undermine the resilience that is needed for individuals to remain purposeful and in control of their lives. Three times more women than men are diagnosed with MS. There is no cause or cure.

Among other services, MS Ireland uses the funds raised to provide vital services that reduce the impact of MS including physiotherapy, general support services, and newly diagnosed seminars.

For more on Multiple Sclerosis visit www.ms-society.ie


Members of the public with any queries relating to MS are invited to call the MS Information Line 1850 233 233 which is available Monday- Friday 10am- 5pm. All calls are strictly confidential.

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