Hamilton man, Grant Kelly (24), is taking on new heights in 2017 to raise funds for MND Scotland.
Grant will trek to Everest Base Camp on 21st September 2017, in memory of his grandmother who passed away from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) – a rapidly progressing terminal illness – in January 2012.
Grant was extremely close to his late grandmother, Elizabeth Vickers, also from Hamilton, who passed away when she was 74 years old.
Grant said, “My Gran and Papa only lived a five minute drive from our house, so we visited them a lot when we were very little. Every other Sunday, they were up in our house for dinner or we were down at theirs.
“I have a lot of great memories with them. The best thing every year was Christmas day. When we were young, I would usually wake up around 4am and run into my mum and dad’s room - 'Santa has been!' After half an hour of jumping around waiting to go down stairs - the first thing I wanted to do was phone my gran and papa to come up and open presents with us. I wasn't always allowed to phone at four in the morning, so had to wait until later. They would come up with the biggest Christmas stocking full with presents. It was the best time of the year.
“We first noticed something was wrong in October 2010 when my Gran’s speech started to slur. Initially the doctors thought it was a mini stroke, but then over the next while it started to get worse, not better. She went back for more tests and found out it was MND in March 2011.
“I had no idea what MND was. I vaguely knew it was what Stephen Hawking had, but didn’t know any more than that.
“When she was diagnosed we did tend to visit a lot more often due to the nature of the disease. We knew that there was no cure and we had very limited and precious time left together. In the early stages we spoke about the usual things; work, school, my football - just as if everything was normal. When her speech got really bad and we could hardly understand a word, she had to write everything. Due to this, conversations between us and my gran got less and less. She just enjoyed being in the room and listening to all of us talking. When her writing got worse we were then provided with an iPad from MND Scotland, so we could still communicate which was a godsend in the last couple of months.
“Over the ten months, from her diagnosis to her passing, her symptoms worsened with time. She could not eat or drink anymore, she was choking a lot. She had difficulty getting dressed and her breathing started rapidly declining in December 2011. On the 24th January 2012, she passed away peacefully with all of her family around her."
On his trek, the IT engineer said “My sister, Ashley (28) and I have been fundraising for MND Scotland for the past four years and have raised around £8,000 in that time. My sister does the Strathclyde Park fun run every year and has done a few half marathons, but before deciding to do Everest Base Camp, I hadn’t done anything for a while.
“I'm not long home from a year away in Australia - I got back around mid-July after being away for 13 months. As soon as I got back I started looking for my next fundraising activity for MND Scotland. I came across the Kilimanjaro climb then decided to look into more climbs - finally I came across Mount Everest Base Camp trek.
“Being able to trek for 11 days from Lukla airport to the Base Camp, stopping off at tea houses along the way is going to be an unreal experience. The people that I am going to be able to meet and the new experiences I am going to have will be life changing.
“It is going to be amazing being able to see the world’s highest mountain up close and personal! Then being able to do something this incredible, for a fantastic cause, makes it that much more special.
“Training is going okay so far – I play football for a local team so I train with them twice a week, I go swimming every Wednesday at Blantyre Leisure Centre to improve my breathing and I go running after work as much as possible (the dark nights aren't helping though). I'm also trying to climb as many Munros as possible - so far I have completed just seven, but I’m planning to get a lot more done by the time Everest comes around.
“I’ve set my fundraising target as £4,000 and have already reached £1,200 which I am really pleased about. I’m also in the process of organising a charity night in April in the local hall, I’m doing tough mudder in July and want to organise a trip to do the West Highland Way too. So I hope all that will take me closer to my total… and help with training.
“All the money raised will go to a great charity, MND Scotland. The support that the charity provides for people with MND and their families is amazing. I hope this money goes towards more vital research in order to find a cure for this horrible disease, as well as helping MND Scotland provide support to those affected in Scotland.”
Iain McWhirter, Head of Fundraising and Volunteering at MND Scotland, said “I’d like to thank Grant and his sister, Ashley, for their continued support over the years. They have achieved so much and the money they have raised is already making a huge difference to the lives of those affected by this devastating illness.
“Grant is in for an experience of a life-time and we wish him the best of luck with this incredible challenge.”
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