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Canadian ME charity wins $5000 in Aviva contest

Canada’s National ME/FM Action Network has won through to the Aviva Community Fund finals, picking up $5000 on the way, and looking to win a bigger share of the $1,000,000 up for grabs.

The charity was clearly delighted, announcing the win on Facebook and thanking supporters: “It’s Official! We have advanced to the finals and we have won $5000 in the Aviva contest. Thank you so much for your support to help us advance to this level. The judging phase begins shortly and the Grand Prize winners will be announced Jan 27, 2015.”

The charity gained enough votes to advance to the final group of 40 after a frenetic two-week social media campaign urging ME and FM patients to support their cause.

Whether or not the group increases its share of the $1m in prize money will be decided by the Aviva-appointed judges who will score each of 40 finalist ideas using a specific set of weighted criteria.

About The National ME/FM Action Network

The National ME/FM Action Network is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to providing support, advocacy, education and research for sufferers of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and fibromyalgia (FM).

There are more than 411,500 Canadians diagnosed with ME/CFS and 439,000 with fibromyalgia according to the 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) conducted by Statistics Canada.

The survey also revealed a high level of disability for patients with ME/CFS and FM as well as unmet health care needs.

Funds to further biomedical research

The charity drew attention to the desperate need for research into the two illnesses in its submission on the Aviva Ideas page.

“To date, minimal funds have been available resulting in little biomedical research in Canada for these illnesses. Our Canadian patient community are asking for and are in need of biomedical research and solutions,” the charity said.

The proceeds from the Aviva contest will go towards establishing a research arm to take on the challenge of advancing biomedical ME and FM research in Canada.

“We will unite Canada’s experts and assemble an advisory group, establish our research criteria, investigate the various research opportunities requiring funding, choose our first project and support the execution and reporting of its results in 2015.”

A portion of the funds will be directed towards investigating the formation of a biobank in support of future Canadian research projects. The group also plans to engage with the patient community to determine their preferences for future projects.

Additionally, the group said it will work to build on its relationship with the Canadian government to obtain long term funding for other projects and to increase the government’s awareness of the 850,500 Canadians in need of their support.

“Aviva’s gift will help to us make a difference to the lives of many Canadians. It will give us credibility in our quest for answers and solutions and hope for a better tomorrow.”

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Written by Russell Logan

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Russell Logan worked as a magazine publisher and editor until forced into early retirement through ill health with ME. He has battled with moderate to severe ME for 25 years. He now lives in Noosaville, Australia.

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