How far would you go to fight motor neurone disease?
2,014 miles to run and cycle in the course of 2014 is the challenge the brothers Pete and John Collins and their friend Antony Oxley have set themselves in a bid to raise money and awareness for motor neurone disease (MND). The fundraisers who have all lost loved ones to MND presented their campaign “2014in2014” at a launch event on 23 January 2014 hosted by the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN). Highlights of the year-long challenge include a marathon through nine European countries in 24 hours, bike rides from John O’Groat’s to Land’s End and from Clumber to Humber, as well as a tour of the six big cricket grounds.
The trio invited their audience of family and friends, as well as their honorary guests the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Vickie Priestley and Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Director of SITraN, to spread the word for their campaign; “We are looking for anyone who would like to join in the events as the 4th man on the team. We will need all the help we can get with our challenges and additional fundraising activities to reach our target of £30.000.” The money raised will be donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) for research into finding a therapy or cure for MND and improving the lives of MND patients.
“What? How much? And why?” - John Collins who presented the campaign explained his motivation: “I have lost my father, my best friend to MND. It is a cruel and devastating disease. Within two years from his diagnosis my dad lost the ability to walk, move, talk, eat and breathe. He died from MND in 2008. I will do whatever I can to stop this happening to any other family, any other Mum or Dad.”
The fundraising team thanked Professor Pam Shaw for hosting their launch event at SITraN and for giving the audience an overview of the current research into MND and the work that is done at the institute. Professor Shaw told the audience how SITraN came into existence through a similarly courageous patient of hers who initiated the fundraising that finally led to SITraN being a reality. The institute, built on a former brownfield site is now one of the world’s leading research institutes in the fight against MND. The visitors at the event took the opportunity to join SITraN staff on tours through the labs and building which was designed according to Professor Shaw’s vision as a centre for multidisciplinary research enabling research findings to be translated into new therapies and real benefits to improve patients’ lives. In recognition of her services to neuroscience and lifelong dedication to MND research, Professor Shaw was recently made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen as part of the New Year’s Honours.
Professor Shaw congratulated the challengers to their inspiring campaign and stressed the importance of raising funds for motor neurone disease which as a rare disease is generally underfunded. The first event of the many challenges is the Stafford Half Marathon on the 16 March 2014.