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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5615

Mr MARLES (Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry) (9:57 AM) —This morning in Parliament House a special event is about to take place: the nation’s top fundraisers in one of this country’s best known charity fundraising events, the MS Readathon, are meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is the patron of the readathon. It is a wonderful acknowledgement of their efforts to raise money for an extremely worthwhile cause.

Yesterday afternoon it was my pleasure to meet a young man from Geelong who has earned his place at this meeting as Victoria’s top fundraiser. And I say ‘earned’ quite deliberately because 12-year-old Hayden Loader has worked hard and with considerable determination to raise thousands of dollars over several years. Each year he has managed to better his efforts, not just by taking part in the readathon but by organising other fundraising events throughout the year. Last year he became Victoria’s top MS Readathon fundraiser by collecting an impressive $5,011. This year he has already bettered that result. He has raised $5,700 and has more time to add to that before the August fundraising deadline.

Over several years, Hayden has managed to raise in excess of $12,000, no small feat for a primary school student. Hayden’s inspiration comes from his grandmother, Mary-Faye Wilson, who has had multiple sclerosis for 15 years. Her daily battle with this perplexing disease has driven Hayden’s efforts to help her and others like her. Money raised through the readathon provides support for those living with MS and also funds the ongoing search for a cure. Hayden’s mum, Nicole, was a regular readathon participant and says Hayden became involved when he was old enough to read. What impressed me about Hayden was not just the amount of money he raised and the many hundred of books he has read but also the extra effort he makes to raise money.

His first attempt at a garage sale raised over $3,000 when he enlisted the support of local businesses. Each year he runs a Christmas hamper drive and slice drive. He has organised charity auction nights and every summer, when the family holidays in Mildura, he raises more money by washing windows in the caravan park where they stay. Hayden loves swimming and later this year he will take part in the 24-hour Mega Swim for MS. Coming here was a big deal for Hayden. It was his first trip on a plane and his and his mum’s first visit to Canberra. Hayden’s mum says no words can express her pride in her son. It is an outstanding achievement.

Last year the MS Readathon raised more than $2.3 million with 25,500 participants reading over a million books during June, July and August. It is MS Readathon time again. Hayden has set himself the task of reading more than 100 books in 30 days. That is a great effort and I encourage other children to take a leaf out of Hayden’s book. We all know that reading can take us places. For Hayden, it has brought him to Canberra but it has also given him the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of others, especially his grandmother, and for that he should be congratulated.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms JA Saffin)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for members’ constituency statements has concluded.