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Gobal Ice Bucket Challenge helps change lives


Gobal Ice Bucket Challenge helps change the lives of kiwis living with MND

The global social media phenomenon, the Ice Bucket Challenge, has bought in much needed funds for kiwis living with MND and raised unprecedented awareness of the fatal disease says Beth Watson, President of the Motor Neurone Disease Association of New Zealand.

The challenge, known overseas as the ALS[1] Ice Bucket Challenge, sees participants have a bucket of ice water tipped on their head to promote awareness of motor neurone disease (MND) and encourage donations to MND. Beth was an early participant in New Zealand after being challenged by Carol Birks, the President of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations.

The challenge has raised at least £1 million (NZ$1.9 million) in the United Kingdom and US$88 million (NZ$105 million) for ALS in the United States where the challenge originated.

In New Zealand, National Manager of the Motor Neurone Disease Association Grant Diggle says it has generated huge interest from the public since it went viral during July and August this year, including around $15,000 in donations when MND NZ usually receives around $2,000 on average, a month.

One person who will undertake the challenge this Saturday is 40-year-old doctor, Claire Reilly from Geraldine, who is living with MND.

“When I was training to be a doctor at Otago this was the disease we all feared the most. That’s because it’s like slowly watching your body die. You’re still the same person you’ve always been but now you’re locked in a body that won’t listen,” says Claire.

“This year about 100 people will die from MND and another 100 will be diagnosed. It doesn’t discriminate and most of those diagnosed will die within two to five years.

“I’m hoping that by tipping a bucket of water over my head that I can do something about this dreadful illness,” says Claire.

The association thanks Claire and other New Zealanders who have undertaken the challenge or supported those who have.

“We are really humbled by Claire’s efforts. As if having MND isn’t challenging enough,” Grant says.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has rallied around the cause and supported people living with MND in New Zealand – we welcome any donation big or small. The funds will be used to help people with MND in New Zealand get the right help at the right time. Funding our fieldworkers is an ongoing challenge for us.

“While the amount of money and awareness raised here is small by global standards, it is significant for the near 300 people in New Zealand currently living with MND and will certainly help the Association to support them as they battle with this illness,” says Grant.

“And the massive amount of money raised globally is certainly good news for kiwis with MND if it helps to fund an eventual treatment,” he says.

If you would like to take the challenge you can find more information at www.mnda.org.nz. If you’d prefer to stay warm and dry you can still get involved and support MND by making a valuable donation online:
https://www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/fundraise/makedonation_direct.aspx?c=175

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