Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada


$350,000 awarded to next generation of multiple sclerosis researchers

  • National News Release


Toronto, ON – September 7, 2016 The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is proud to announce the 2016 recipients of scholarships for youth affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), providing over $350,000 toward the tuition and expenses of five students across Canada. The John Helou Scholarship, which is made possible by the support of Pfizer Canada Inc. and Innovative Medicines Canada was awarded to Jeannelle Bouvette of Red Deer, Alberta, who lives with relapsing-remitting MS; and Lauren Smith of Georgetown, Ontario, whose mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before she was born. The Follow the Leader scholarship, which is made possible by the support of the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation, was awarded to Lucas Nystrom of Kenora, Ontario and Nicholas Addesso of L’Original, Ontario, both of whom grew up with a parent living with MS, as well as Matthew Lee of Toronto, Ontario, whose mother lives with NMO, an affiliated condition. All five students will be supported through the four years of their undergraduate degrees – degrees they hope will lead to a career in MS research.

“As someone who has MS, trying to work while I complete my first year of university would be incredibly stressful, and stress is something that causes me to relapse,” says Jeannelle Bouvette, who was diagnosed with MS in 2015. “This grant means I can go to school despite the financial difficulties that come with living with MS. Especially because my dorm room is more expensive than it would have been if I didn’t have MS because I need an accessible bathroom for when I experience vertigo. And it also motivates me to do more with MS research. I’ve been given the opportunity to work in this field and that motivates me to give back.”

The John Helou Scholarship will provide Bouvette and Smith the financial support they need to overcome the financial obstacles that come with their respective personal and familial diagnosis of MS, enabling them to reach their full potential and become the next generation of MS research leaders. Bouvette will be working towards a bachelor of science, immunology and infection at the University of Alberta. Smith attends Nipissing University for nursing, and along with Bouvette, will receive $6,250 per year for four years to apply to tuition for a total scholarship of $25,000 each.

With the Follow the Leader scholarship, Nystrom, Lee and Addesso will receive $25,000 per year for four years to apply to tuition and living expenses – for a total scholarship of $100,000 each. Returning for a second year, this innovative scholarship program is available solely due to the generous financial support of the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation and seeks to offset the hardships of those who have grown up with MS in their family -- impacting their ability to pursue a post-secondary education.

“I lost my dad last October, and that was definitely hard. If a cure was found it would mean the world – and that no one else has to go through what we went through,” says Lucas Nystrom, whose step-father passed away last October due to complications related to MS. “Ever since I was 14, I’ve been working as much as I can. And after five years, I had enough money to pay for a single year of tuition. I didn’t want it to be a huge financial burden to my family. With this scholarship, now maybe I can apply for an internship over the summer and I can pursue clinical research to make a real difference, because I know what that means to young people growing up with this disease in their lives.”

Each of these students was chosen by the selection committees because of their consistently exemplary marks, involvement in extracurricular activities, focus on MS research as a career path, superb communication skills, and leadership experience. The committee evaluated eligible young people who plan to complete a post-secondary degree in the areas of science, technology, engineering or math – academic streams that directly influence ongoing work to end MS.

“When a young person or a parent has MS, it brings uncertainty in a number of ways – financial uncertainty since a person with MS often can’t work or must work fewer hours and emotional uncertainty because the uncertainty of a relapse or the decline of the health of a loved one,” says Sylvia Leonard, national vice president, talent, programs & services, MS Society of Canada. “These young people know first-hand the need to put an end to this disease and support those who are affected. With the Follow the Leader and the John Helou scholarships, we want to ensure that qualified students who want to pursue a career in MS are relieved of financial constraints and inspired to become our MS leaders of the future.”

With the investment from the KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation in the Follow the Leader scholarship, and investment from Pfizer Canada Inc. and Innovative Medicines Canada in the John Helou Scholarship, the MS Society will not only be able to help ease the financial burden for these five young Canadian students, but remain in close contact with them to provide guidance, learning and mentoring opportunities.

“KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation is proud to partner with the MS Society and extend this opportunity to three truly exemplary young people. Through this scholarship, Lucas Nystrom, Matthew Lee and Nicholas Addesso will be able to focus on their academic success without worrying about the financial impact of post-secondary education. They will gain the potential to be a part of impacting the future of MS through their achievements,” says Steven H. Wise, chairman, KRG Children's Charitable Foundation.

“I've seen first-hand the impact of MS on a family. The goal of this scholarship is to help in a meaningful way families living with this degenerative disease,” said John Helou, President, Pfizer Canada Inc. " I am thrilled to be given this opportunity by Innovative Medicines Canada and Pfizer Canada Inc., in partnership with the MS Society, to offer this scholarship in my name to two very-deserving young women. I look forward to tracking their progress and their success,” he added.


About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada
Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. Please visit or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information.

Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat or like our page on Facebook.

About KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation
The KRG Children's Charitable Foundation's prime focus is to raise much-needed funds and awareness for children's charities.KRG Children's Charitable Foundation has been helping thousands of children lead happier, healthier and more proactive and productive lives for almost 20 years. In addition to helping kids, KRG Children's Charitable Foundation takes great pride in a commitment to assist those who work with children on a daily basis.

Media contact:
Matthew Higginson, MS Society of Canada
416-922-6065 x3159

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