Emma lives in Coatbridge with her partner Frank Brady (31) and the pair are parents to Theo (2). The couple plans to take to the summit of Ben Nevis on Saturday 12th September, joined by Emma’s brother Derick (37), with friend Necole (32) and her boyfriend Daniel (31).
The group is taking on the challenge to raise money for MND Scotland which is supporting Emma’s father, 64-year-old Ian Cunningham, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2016.
MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This may cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink, or breathe unaided.
Emma said: “My dad had always been fit and healthy and was an avid golfer, so it was definitely a shock to us all for him to receive such a devastating diagnosis. My dad fights this disease every day and it’s taken a lot away from him.
“Today my dad struggles with his speech and his mobility is very poor. It breaks my heart that I can’t take MND away for my dad. His resolve to fight this disease is amazing, it makes me so proud to call him my Dad. His determination every day to get up and make the most of each day, and not sit and let this horrible disease take over more of him, is incredible.
“I’d love to help find a cure for him and every single other person who has to deal with this horrendous condition, that’s why I’m taking on this challenge to raise awareness and funds for MND Scotland.”
“Myself, my brother Derick, my partner Frank, and my friend Necole and her boyfriend Daniel will be climbing Ben Nevis on Saturday 12th September and we’re going to be starting at 5am.
“I’m not exactly a hiker, so this will be a big challenge, and because of Covid-19 we’ve not been able to get to the gym or do as much training as we’d like, but we have managed to climb Ben A’an, Conic Hill, and Tinto to prepare, and we’re going to be doing the Cobbler soon as well.
“I’m determined to raise awareness and money for MND Scotland because I see what they do on a first-hand basis with my dad. The care and support he has received from MND Scotland has been amazing, from the relaxing massage treatments he receives, to the regular support group meetings, and the holiday grant he gets each year to take some time away to recharge, it all makes a big difference.
“The charity funds all these services and also funds research and clinical trials to find new treatments for MND, and hopefully someday a cure.
“I would just love for my dad to be able to take his grandson Theo to the park and play football with him, or to take him down the Barras for some doughnuts and have a walk about, like he did with me when I was a little girl.”
Photo: Ian Cunningham finishes the 2018 MND Scotland Fun Run with defiance
Iain McWhirter, Head of Fundraising at MND Scotland, said: “MND Scotland exists to support people just like Emma’s dad, and we are so grateful that she has decided to take on Ben Nevis to support the work of the charity.
“It’s because of people like Emma that we’ve been able to refocus our services during Covid-19, to target the maximum support to people affected by MND across Scotland, including video support groups, one-to-one phone calls, and emergency grants to people who are struggling financially due to Covid-19.
“We’re wishing Emma, Frank, Derick, Necole, and Daniel all the best for their climb – everyone at MND Scotland will be cheering them on.”
If you would like to support Emma and her team, you can sponsor them on their JustGiving page, where money goes direct to the charity.