21 December 2018

Canberra teenagers using Christmas lights to brighten the lives of MS patients

| Lachlan Roberts
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One of the lights displays in Gowrie set up by Ben Walker and James Crowther. Photos: Supplied.

Two Canberra teenagers are lighting up their streets with impressive Christmas lights displays and in the process, lighting up the lives of people suffering from multiple sclerosis.

For the second year in a row, Ben Walker and James Crowther are celebrating the festive season by setting up extraordinary light displays to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis research.

Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is the most common acquired chronic neurological disease affecting young adults, often diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40 and, in Australia, affects three times more women than men.

The chronic disease attacks the central nervous system and its progress, severity and specific symptoms cannot be predicted. As yet, there is no cure.

Raising money to help find a cure for MS is very close to home for Ben, in more ways than one.

christmas lights

This is the second year the Christmas lights display will raise money for MS research.

“We have been setting up the lights for the past six to seven years, but this is only the second year to raise money for MS research,” Ben shared. “We decided to raise money for MS research because my Grandmother has had MS for about 14 years.”

The duo spent over a month setting up the Christmas lights displays which are now operating at two different locations. The displays can be seen at Stacy Street and Ruthven Street, Gowrie, the latter boasting one of the largest solar displays in Canberra, with over 150 solar panels.

The 16-year-olds are looking forward to welcoming more members of the public to their Gowrie homes to fundraise for MS Australia.

“For a month we spent all our time after school and on weekends setting up the displays,” he said. “The streets are getting pretty busy with cars driving past and the past couple of weekends have been crazy. Lots of people park their cars and have looked and we like to talk to them about why we are fundraising.

“We are out the front of our houses every night and thanks to a few helpers who collect money, we can just chat to people about the lights and MS.”

Last year, the pair raised nearly $1000 for MS Australia and this year, they hope to triple that amount.

“We have set our goal this year to $3,500 and we look to be on track and hopefully we will hit that goal before Christmas,” he said.

You can see Ben’s Christmas lights display near the corner of Bugden Avenue and Stacy Street, Gowrie, while James’s solar Christmas display is in Ruthven Street, Gowrie.

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