Daniel, originally from Belfast, is a Modern Languages student at the University of Edinburgh and has decided to take part in the annual Race2Paris event, organised by Edinburgh non-profit organisation Edinburgh Raising and Giving (Edinburgh RAG).
The competition kicks-off at 0715 in Edinburgh’s Bristo Square, on Friday 2nd November, and will see 70 teams of two tasked with reaching Paris in the quickest time possible. Participants can raise money for any charity they choose, but are forbidden from spending any of their own money on transport.
Daniel decided to raise funds for MND Scotland after his grandfather, Alan Leggett died from MND in May 2010, just 11 months after being diagnosed.
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.
Daniel said: “I chose to raise awareness and funds for MND Scotland because my grandad was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of Motor Neurone Disease in the summer of 2009. After his diagnosis he was wheelchair bound within 6 months and he passed away at home in May 2010.
“My grandad was a very fit and active man. He’d play golf three days a week and walk his youngest grandchildren to school in the mornings. We first realised that something wasn’t right when he started to struggle getting in and out of his car, or holding his golf clubs.
“Grandad was most worried about knowing he was going to leave his wife, my nana Sheila, and his family behind. As his MND progressed, I remember my little cousins saying that grandad wasn’t able to walk them to school anymore.
“My Grandad’s diagnosis with MND was our first real exposure to a terminal disease. We all took turns to care for him and to stay with him.
“He never complained about his illness. He always wanted to know about how we were getting on at school and at our sports. Even when he lost his ability to speak he would spell out his questions and speak with his eyes using his portable alphabet. So, despite his illness, my Grandad made it easy for us, which reflected how he never lost his personality.
“MND is a hateful and disabling disease that slowly erodes your independence and dignity leading ultimately to your death. There’s not enough awareness of Motor Neurone Disease and the real impact it has on those diagnosed and their families. However, the support and care that Grandad received especially from his carers was exceptional and our family will be forever grateful for their kindness.”
Now Daniel, along with his friend Alex, plan to raise money for MND Scotland to help support other people affected by MND, as well as funding cutting-edge research towards a cure.
Daniel continued: “Alex and I are feeling incredibly excited ahead of the event, but we’re nervous and unsure about how to plan the journey. We’ve already raised more than our £500 target for MND Scotland and hopefully, by sharing our story, we can raise even more!
“We’ve never done anything like this before but thought it would be an amazing experience and something which could define our university experience. We understand that it will be incredibly difficult and that this challenge will test us. At times we will be frustrated, angry and tired, but we know how amazing the cause is and that will keep us going.
Daniel and Alex were elated when, after contacting MND Scotland for support, the charity reached out to its official charity partner, the ScotRail Alliance, for support.
Daniel said: “We’re absolutely thrilled and grateful to hear that ScotRail will be generously donating two rail tickets, for myself and Alex, so that all of our travel through Scotland is taken care of.”
“We’ll have a good head-start when we reach Carlisle, so our plan is to get as far south as possible and, depending on the route we take, travel into France either by the Eurotunnel or the ferry to Calais.
“We need as much energy and support as possible if we’re going to pull this off, and raise funds for MND Scotland. If anyone reading this would like to sponsor us, by donating some money to the incredible MND Scotland, please visit: https://race-nation.com/sponsor/t/6114/”
Morag McGown, MND Scotland’s Corporate Partnerships Manager, said: “I want thank Daniel and Alex for taking on this incredible fundraising challenge for MND Scotland.
“I’d also like to thank Daniel for bravely sharing his grandfather’s heart-breaking diagnosis and progression with Motor Neurone Disease.
“MND Scotland is the leading charity providing care, information and support to people affected by MND in Scotland, as well as funding cutting-edge research into a cure.
“We wouldn’t be able to achieve any of this without people like Daniel and Alex standing behind us.
“I’d also like to thank our incredible partners at the ScotRail Alliance for donating two rail passes to help get Daniel and Alex off to the best possible start on their challenge. ScotRail has raised over £150,000 for MND Scotland, over the last 19 months, and we’re delighted that they’ve stepped up once again to support two of our fundraisers reach their destination.
“I’m wishing Daniel and Alex all the best for their race and all of the team at MND Scotland will be cheering them on.”
Sue Evans, Communications Director at the ScotRail Alliance, said: “MND Scotland is an absolutely fantastic organisation that is doing some great work and we are delighted to be able to continue to provide our support. It is important that we do all we can to raise awareness of this cruel disease and we wish Daniel and Alex good luck in their challenge.”
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