Kevin, a Technical Stage Manager at Motherwell Concert Hall and Theatre, lives with his wife of ten years Nicola (35) and their miniature dachshund, Oscar. He has two brothers Scott (41) and Stephen (35) who have joined him on many of his fundraising challenges.
Their lives were turned upside down in October 2016, when their father James (65) was diagnosed with MND.
Kevin said, “To start off with he was having an issue with his left foot not lifting properly. My dad was asked to visit a Neurologist in Edinburgh. I drove him to the appointment and I remember the Neurologist explaining to my Dad how it could be to do with a nerve that runs down the outside of his leg that could have been injured.
“Then he asked my dad to take his top off for further examination and almost immediately changed his mind as to what it was when he saw the muscles in my dad’s arms twitching. He didn’t tell us what it was but said he was going to write a letter to our doctor to explain his findings.
“Since my dad was going to the doctor the next day for an unrelated thing he said he would just drop off the letter. We had a quick look at the letter on the way home and it said possible ALS. My dad didn’t know anything about it but I knew about it having taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge and told him hopefully that it wasn’t that.”
Kevin drove his father to a later appointment at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where Kevin, his mother June (65), and father learned of the diagnosis.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. We were sitting waiting for the doctor in the day room of one of the wards. I hadn’t intended on sitting in on the appointment; I had just assumed that the doctor would have taken him into another room. But the Doctor just sat down in the room and bluntly told my dad that he had Motor Neurone Disease.
“My dad was putting on a brave face, as he always does, as the doctor predicted that he probably had a year and a half to live. My dad just said ‘that’s not too bad.’ When the doctor had left the MND nurse came in to explain what would happen next. I couldn’t hold my tears back. I tried to hide them but Mum and Dad noticed and then that set them off crying.”
Following his father’s devastating MND diagnosis, Kevin has thrown himself into challenge after challenge, to help raise the profile of MND and to help fundraise for a cure.
“I set a series of challenges named ‘Callie’s Challenges’ because my dad used to be called Callie when he worked in the steel works. The first challenge was the 6-mile MND Scotland Fun Run in Strathclyde Park. I pushed my dad round the route in his wheelchair whilst several members of our extended family ran with us.
In June 2017 Kevin was joined on ‘Callie’s Crew’ by his younger brother Stephen, his cousin Louise and his work colleague Stuart when he decided to take on Tough Mudder - an 11-mile assault course, where participants must brave ice cold water, electrocution and strength and teamwork challenges. As a team, they managed to raise an incredible £2,310 for MND Scotland.
Kevin said, “MND Scotland have greatly assisted our family providing support through the MND Support Group which meets regularly and providing equipment such as the Eye Gaze - which has been helping my dad communicate with us since he can no longer speak.
“It has been a challenge adjusting to how quickly the disease has progressed. This time last year my dad was walking with an aid and talking no problem and now he can’t walk, talk or feed himself.
Due to his progression with MND, Kevin’s father has not been able to enjoy some of his former pastimes. With his father being a classic car enthusiast, Kevin has taken it on himself to drive his father’s classic MGC wearing a head-mounted GoPro camera, so that his dad can continue to experience what it’s like to drive his pride and joy.
“My dad has been a rock to me throughout my life and it is my duty to repay him in his hour of need by doing all that I can to help him. I don’t know how my mum has coped and been so strong throughout this last year.”
Kevin’s next challenge will be taking on Tough Runner, a 15km obstacle course, based on popular TV game shows such as Ninja Warrior. The challenge takes place on Sunday 6th August at Hopetoun House, Queensferry.
Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland’s Head of Volunteering and Fundraising, said: “I would like to thank Kevin for sharing his family’s story with MND, to help raise awareness and funds for MND Scotland.
“Kevin has thrown himself into challenge after challenge to help build the profile of Motor Neurone Disease and to help us fundraise for a cure. We have been in awe of the whole Elliott family and their strength during what must be a challenging time for them.
“Team MND Scotland is wishing Kevin the best ahead of Tough Runner in August and we will be cheering him on.”
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