London’s east end will be filled with the joyous sound of children singing on Tuesday night as El Sistema Aeolian hosts their second annual ALS fundraiser, ‘Youth of Today, Cure for Tomorrow’ in partnership with Canada Life. The junior choir and children’s orchestra will take the stage alongside special guest Alexandra Kane, a local music instructor and performing artist who has volunteered her time to sing in support of ALS Canada.

“They are so enthusiastic to perform,” Executive Director Clark Bryan says about the junior performers, the majority of whom fall between the ages of six and ten. “The kids in the orchestra play by memory, so it’s a pretty high-level accomplishment.”

El Sistema Aeolian is a donor-funded, intensive after-school program that currently provides music instruction to 120 kids at no cost to their families. This event will showcase the young talent that most recently performed at the 2019 JUNO Awards.

Attendees will have the chance to take part in what Clark refers to as a reverse auction—rather than auctioning off a prize, people can place bids to buy pieces of equipment for individuals living with ALS. In 2018, the auction resulted in the purchase of a number of lift chairs for people living with ALS and the goal is to increase the number of lift chairs purchased as a result of this year’s fundraising efforts.

Bryan says his music students’ interest in supporting ALS initiatives was solidified following a presentation about ALS from Dr. Christen Shoesmith, director of the London Motor Neuron Diseases Clinic, co-director of the neurosciences curriculum at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and a member of ALS Canada’s Client Services Advisory Council. Dr. Shoesmith’s presentation focused on how the brain works, what MRIs are, and what happens in the body that causes the symptoms of ALS as we know it.

It’s a complex and scary topic, but Clark emphasizes the necessity of teaching young people about the disease in a safe space. They were incredibly receptive and had dozens of questions—how do you know you have ALS? Will I get ALS? Will someone in my family get ALS?

“I think it’s really important that these kids learn these kinds of things and support these causes,” says Clark. “Life can change for anyone at any time and we need to be interdependent and support each other.”

The ALS fundraising event began last year when El Sistema Aeolian decided to collaborate with Canada Life, an organization that has been a long-time supporter of ALS Canada. Last year they contributed over $25,000 to the Walk to End ALS in London and are working hard to give back again this year.

Throughout the year, Canada Life supports El Sistema Aeolian by teaching its students initiative through their leadership program, providing the resources for regular meals and education on nutrition, and opportunities to bring on more students – approximately 60% of whom are newcomers to Canada – at no cost to families.

So come out and enjoy a heartwarming concert at a beautiful venue with superb acoustics—all in support of ALS research and community-based support for people and families living with ALS in Ontario. The concert is on Tuesday, October 29th at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:15 pm. Tickets for the concert are $30, with a tax receipt for $20 available. This is a great opportunity to connect with Londoners who want to support the local community and help change the reality of ALS.

Posted in: Events, Fund Development