A young Fort St. John girl took on an ambitious goal to raise money for the MS Society of Canada.

Although Grace Alton is only 10 year-old, she has already been affected by multiple sclerosis. Her father Colin was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in early 2007, when Grace was only 6 years-old. She has seen her father’s health and activity level decline significantly in recent years because of the debilitating disease.

So, Grace decided she wanted to help. Her mother Alicia Alton says that, out of the blue, the grade 5 student at Duncan Cran Elementary School decided to organize a coin drive at the school.

Grace then spoke with the school’s principal and contacted the school’s Parent Advisory Committee, which agreed to match all funds the students raised throughout the coin drive.
She also sent out letters to the rest of the schools in Fort St. John, asking them to organize their own coin drives. Baldonnel School agreed.

Over the two weeks the coin drive was held at both Duncan Cran and Baldonnel, Grace raised a total of $429.31.

Alton says she and Grace now also wants to bring the annual MS walk to Fort St. John. She says other people have tried to bring the walk to the city in the past, but due to accessibility issues in finding an appropriate location, they had difficulties doing so.

Now, although they have not yet spoken with anyone from the City, they are hoping to get support from the City to potentially hold the walk at the Pomeroy Sport Centre. Alton says the new walking track would be the perfect location since it is completely accessible for people no matter their mobility levels.

Currently, the closest MS walks are in Grande Prairie, Alta. and Prince George, B.C., several hours away from Fort St. John.

Alton says she feels it is especially important to hold a walk in Fort St. John since the area has a high rate of MS sufferers.

Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. MS is an autoimmune disease where the body begins to attack myelin sheaths in the brain causing debilitation over time.

More information on the MS Walk and the MS Society of Canada can be found here.