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Global awareness day - celebrities to Walk 2 D’Feet MND

Global awareness day - celebrities to Walk 2 D’Feet MND

Sports stars and Kiwi personalities are putting their best foot forward for the 300-odd New Zealanders affected by motor neurone disease, in a nationwide event launched this weekend.

Sunday, June 21, is Motor Neurone Disease Global Awareness Day which recognises the fatal neurological disease (also known as ALS) that affects over 350,000 of the world’s population.

The MND Association of New Zealand is proud to launch Walk 2 D’Feet MND, which will take place in six cities nationwide in September, as part of global awareness day.

“MND Global Awareness Day is about recognising people’s determination and spirit in the face of this cruel disease,” says MND NZ president Beth Watson. “We’re launching Walk 2 D’Feet MND to help raise further awareness of this terminal neurological condition for which there is no effective treatment. Half the funds raised will go to research.”

Cricketing legends Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming and Simon Doull will join footballers Paul Ifill, Ivan Vicelich and rower Robbie Manson, along with Kiwi personalities John Campbell, Te Radar, Pauline Gillespie and the local mayors of the six cities where Walk 2 D’Feet MND is being held on September 20. Nigel Latta and Annabel Langbein are also hopeful of taking part.

“It’s great to have such inspiring New Zealanders join Walk 2 D’Feet MND, which will be held in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin,” Ms Watson says.

The event’s national project manager, Dr Claire Reilly, who also has MND, says it’s an insidious disease that works silently. She conceived the idea of the nationwide event and has secured sponsorship and celebrity engagement to ensure its success.

“The problem with a disease like MND is that it is often so rapid, so debilitating, that those affected never get a chance to be heard,” Dr Reilly says.

“The disease quietly goes about its business taking lives, devastating families and the wider community are largely unaware. I have been luckier than most, in that my disease has progressed at a slower rate, so I wanted to take that opportunity and raise as much awareness as I can, while I can.”

Hundreds of people, who have also been personally affected by MND, are expected to also join in the 3- 5 kilometre walk. Other well-known Kiwis, who can’t be there on the day, including Mahe Drysdale and Urzila Carlson, are also supporting Walk 2 D’Feet MND.

Two of the regional event organisers also have MND, which leads to the death of nerve cells - neurones - controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow. “We’re inspired everyday by the people in New Zealand who live with this disease. People with MND show amazing determination,” Ms Watson says.

MND NZ would like to thank Walk 2 D’Feet MND sponsors including ResMed, Fujitsu Heat Pumps, Hound and Steed, Sanofi, TVNZ, Spectrum Print and Ruffel Productions.

‘It’s not too late to get on board and support Walk 2 D’Feet MND, we’re keen to hear from anyone keen to help MND in New Zealand,’ says Dr Reilly.


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