Dillon Schmidt and the armful of books he devoured in a 20 hour readathon.

20 books in 20 hours for charity

In a spontaneous act of pure goodness, a young Cavan lad undertook a readathon last weekend to raise awareness that the Team Hope campaign has moved online.

Dillon Schmidt (12) spent 20 hours reading book after book in order to highlight the Team Hope campaign.

Moved by seeing an ad for a charity on tv on Saturday morning, October 17, Dillon was spurred into doing something to help children less fortunate than himself. He didn’t mull over his options for long.

“He said, ‘I’m going to read as many books as I can and raise money for poor children’,” recalls mum Genie McCabe-Schmidt.

Dillon has selective mutism. In his case, a trauma has resulted in him speaking to very few people outside of his immediate family since he was three years old. While he’s a chatterbox at home, the condition resulted in him finding school, cripplingly stressful, and he is now home schooled.

Dillon began reading at 2pm, but didn’t set a time to complete the task.

“I picked 20 books and wanted to read all of them in the right order,” Dillon tells the Celt in an email.

Dillon selected books from Dav Pilkey’s back catalogue for the challenge. Dillon recommends ‘Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets’ as Pilkey’s best.

Soon realising he was serious about the readathon, Genie and husband Stephan messaged family, friends and colleagues, who generously made donations to Team Hope. The pandemic has prevented the charity from receiving donations of gift shoeboxes, so this year they have appealed for donations of €20 and boxes will be filled with pressies at the country of the recipient.

Whilst relations donated, Dillon continued to read and read, not even stopping to eat; he just devoured books with his dinner sitting on his lap. As evening turned to night he didn’t let up, ignoring all encouragement to finish up.

Photo by Team Hope

“I was going to bed at half past 12 and I said, ‘Dillon, you’ve done enough now, honestly, you should go to bed’. And he said, ‘You can’t stop when you’re trying to help someone’.”

The simple statement moved Genie. “I just thought, Oh, isn’t that lovely?”

Dillon burned the midnight oil through to Sunday morning, closing over the cover of the final book at 10am.

“If you planned it, you’d start early in the morning and read all day” says his proud mum. “It just shows that it wasn’t planned. This came absolutely out of the blue!”

The Schmidts have no idea how many shoeboxes have been filled off the back of Dillon’s readathon.

“He’s not doing it to look good or anything. It was just a really sincere thing of wanting to help children.”

Dillon was pleasantly surprised to get a certificate from Team Hope in appreciation.

“It felt good!” he says.