Throughout August, five-year-old Karla Anand is taking part in her first MS Readathon, reading as many books as she can to raise money for Western Australians living with neurological conditions, and their families.
Karla told us she loves reading and has managed 8 books so far. Her goal is to read twenty books in August – not counting the books she reads to her puppy, Rocky, each night! (P.S. Karla says Rocky likes some stories more than others – his favourite is one about a rat).
Karla’s mum, Madeline (Maddy) Clark, lives with multiple sclerosis (MS). Maddy was diagnosed at an unusually young age, at just 10 years old.
Maddy is now aged 30. Symptoms that impact Maddy’s day-to-day life include vision problems, fatigue, spasms, trouble regulating body temperature and loss of mobility – she has limited function in her arms and hands, meaning she has full-time carers to assist her.
Since diagnosis, Maddy has been supported by MSWA through her twenty year MS journey. Maddy currently accesses counselling, dietetics and speech therapy, among other allied health services, both in-home and at the MSWA Wilson Services Centre.
Money raised from the MS Readathon help fund these vital support services, as well as special Family Camps.
Maddy’s daughter, Karla, said she is taking part in the MS Readathon because, “I want to help lots of different types of people.”
Karla said she would love to go on a Family Camp one day. MSWA’s Family Camps provide an opportunity for kids who have a parent affected by MS to learn more about MS, bond with other kids and have fun with their family.
To date, Karla has raised a whopping $1,116 on her MS Readathon sponsorship page. Family and friends have showed amazing support by donating and posting encouraging messages, such as “I am so proud of you Karla and you should be so proud of who you are and all that you’re going to be.”
When asked what final figure they are aiming to raise, Maddy laughed, recalling they had naively set Karla’s fundraising goal at just $50.
Karla said her favourite book is ‘Even Fairies Need Glasses’ by Sienna Williams, because it’s about fairies. She also loves to read ‘Have You Met My Pet Unicorn?’ by Rosie Greening, because there are different types of material to feel on each page. Karla likes to help run her mum’s fingers over the different textures as they read together.
“She’s such a good girl,” said Maddy. “She knows all about my MS. She helps me a lot around the house.”
On a typical day, Karla wakes up early and goes for a snuggle and a chat with Mum. Then, their full-time childcare worker takes Karla off to school and Maddy starts her day – going to appointments, swimming on Tuesdays, and volunteering at the Graceford Nursing Home’s coffee club on Thursdays. “I love going there for a gossip,” laughed Maddy.
On weekends, it’s all about family time.
When asked what fun thing she likes to do with her mum, Karla said, “I like to do face masks with Mum, go to the park and have bike rides. I like to say ‘I love you’ to her and have picnics, go shopping and to the movies with Mum. And sometimes I get to have my shower with Mum which I love.”
Karla says her mum is very funny, loves pranks, and teaches her funny rhymes – her favourite being about a lady slipping on a banana peel.
During our interview, one of the family’s carers remarked, “Maddy is the biggest trooper I know – always smiling through anything.”
Maddy said she is proud of her daughter’s first participation in the MS Readathon.
When speaking of her future hopes for her daughter, Maddy said, “I just want her to think that nothing’s too hard.”
To support our readers in this year’s MS Readathon, visit msreadathon.org.au/students and search for the reader you would like to sponsor.