Hamilton mum gears up for London Marathon in memory of her dad

Fiona Greaney prepares to push herself to the limits at the London Marathon for MND Scotland.

Hamilton mum gears up for London Marathon in memory of her dad

Posted : 16/04/2019

Hamilton mum, Fiona Greaney (50), will be crossing the London Marathon finish line on Sunday 28th April, in memory of her dad who died of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

The Principal Teacher of Modern Languages, at St John Ogilvie High School, will be taking on the 26-mile challenge to raise vital funds for charity MND Scotland.

Fiona’s dad, John McCarthy, died in 1996 at the age of 59 from MND. 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.

John, also a teacher from Hamilton, lived with the disease for around four years but was only officially diagnosed not long before he died.  

Fiona said, “It took quite a long time for my dad to receive his diagnosis. This was partly due to the fact that he had a rare form of the illness, which causes early onset dementia. This made it impossible for him to explain to us and medical staff exactly what he was experiencing. Other early symptoms were twitches in his shoulders and weakness in his neck muscles, meaning that it was difficult for him to hold up his head. As the illness progressed he had difficulty swallowing and eating.

“At that time there were very few services available. It was a difficult time for our family, not only due to the cruel and debilitating nature of the illness, but also because of the lack of information and support.

“I’m very glad to see that MND Scotland now provides services that are so crucial to patients and their families, which were not available when my dad was ill. Still there is no cure and much more needs to be done to provide research into finding causes and a cure.

“Although it’s 23 years on, my dad is still very much missed by everyone. Especially by our immediate family; myself, my brothers Kevin and Paul, and my mum Geraldine. He was always great with children but sadly never had the opportunity to meet any of his own seven grandchildren.”

Fiona, who is married to Simon (49) and mum to Jonathan (18), Matthew (15) and Joshua (12), will be lacing up her trainers on 28th April 2019 to raise awareness of MND and funds to find a cure.

On her training for event Fiona said, “I have done quite a few 10ks, a half marathon and several MND Scotland Fun Runs, but had never contemplated a marathon until last year. On the year of my 50th birthday, I started to realise how young my dad had been when his life was taken from him by this cruel illness. It was then that I decided to take on the challenge of the marathon to raise money for MND Scotland. It is a huge honour to be able to do this in memory of my dad and others who have lost their lives to motor neurone disease.

“It has been hard work juggling the marathon training program with a full-time job and a family but it has also been an amazing journey, during which I have had the support of some fantastic people. I joined Motherwell Athletics Club, who have been fabulous at offering advice and help keep my training focused. Nicole Whyte, a PE teacher at St John Ogilvie, has also helped with my cross-training running by organising HIIT classes after school three times a week, and a few close friends have kept me company on some of my longer runs.

“I have found the jump to 15-plus mile runs at the weekend a huge challenge. The longest training run I’ve done is 22 miles (Hamilton to Glasgow Central and home again) - I am still aching after that. People say that the 26.2 miles on 28th April is your lap of honour as you’ve done all the hard work before that and I’m starting to see that now.”

Fiona is aiming to raise £5,000 for MND Scotland and is well on her way to smashing this target.

“I’m organising a few extra events to help raise my funds. I held an afternoon tea, events at my school are ongoing, I am having raffles, guess the marathon finishing time, a car boot sale and a Ladies Night with a clothes swap organised. My niece Rebecca (10) also put out an appeal at her dance show and raised £310 and my cousin Mairi asked for donations instead of birthday presents at her 50th birthday party, raising £450.

“I have been blown away with how generous people have been in their donations. Hopefully this will all make a difference to MND Scotland and the services they are able to provide. So far in the past year I’ve managed to raise almost £4,000 and I’m hoping to raise more yet to break that £5,000 mark.

“The team at MND Scotland have been so helpful and supportive, my family have been patient and kept me going with kindness, humour and practical help and so many friends and colleagues have really gone out of their way to offer support in so many ways.

“I will be wearing my dad’s name on my back as I run round London on marathon day but would also like to offer memory miles to others who would like their loved ones who have died as a result of MND to be remembered. For a donation to MND Scotland I will also wear their names on my back. I hope this will help raise awareness of the illness and help to provide more support and research into a cure.”

Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland Head of Fundraising, said “I’d to thank Fiona for taking on this amazing challenge for MND Scotland and for sharing her personal experience of the illness.

“At MND Scotland we provide care and support to people affected by MND, and fund vital research into a cure. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for people like Fiona raising awareness and funds. We’ll be cheering you on every step of the way!”

To support Fiona’s memory miles for MND please donate online at:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fiona-greaney3.

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