The Gourock family were left devastated when the dad of two lost his battle with MND on 16th November 2010. At the time Abbi was just seven years old and their son Clark (now 10) was a week away from his third birthday.
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. There is currently no cure or effective treatment for MND and the average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 20 months.
Mark, originally from Greenock, was a police constable for 8 years before he died and prior to that was a car mechanic. He first noticed something was wrong when he had a strange feeling in his arm and his leg. Mark went to his GP and after many tests, scans and a lumbar puncture he was diagnosed with MND six months later.
Erica, a classroom assistant in St Stephen’s High School Port Glasgow, said: “The diagnosis was a huge shock and was difficult to deal with as I was not only thinking of myself, but our two children and of course what Mark was facing. We tried to remain optimistic and spent as much time as possible together as a family. Mark was a sun worshiper so we tried to go on a few holidays and this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family; especially my mum, dad, sister Kerry and brother-in-law, Neil. MND Scotland offered us the use of their caravan near St Andrews, so we went there for some time-out and made wonderful memories together as a family.
“I found that over time communication became very difficult and the technology then was not as good as it is now. We had to use a special plastic board with the letters of the alphabet on it and sometimes it could take thirty minutes to say one or two sentences.
“Things became increasingly difficult as time went on and Mark was able to do less and less for himself. I continued to work part-time and when I was at work my dad used to come up to my house and be with Mark, to keep him safe and keep him company. Having two young children at the time made things really difficult and to be honest when I look back I don’t really know how I managed. Mark went downhill fairly quickly and passed away just less than two years after being diagnosed.”
Abbi and Erica have raised around £25,000 for the charity MND Scotland over the past eight years and will now be walking across 20 feet of hot coals (hot enough to melt aluminum), followed by 20 feet of razor-sharp shards of broken glass from a thousand broken wine bottles. The event will take place at the iconic Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow on Friday 12th October and all money raised will go towards MND Scotland.
Erica said: “I started fundraising for MND Scotland when Mark was first diagnosed and I have done a number of different events including; a trek to Machu Picchu, 10k, Triathlon, bake sale, zip slide, 5k, fancy dress disco, 3k and Ben Nevis.
“But this will be Abbi's first BIG fundraiser for MND Scotland. I can't begin to imagine what it felt like losing your dad at the age of 7. She wants to do something to help and I think she is being very brave to tackle such a massive challenge at 14 years of age. We’re both pretty nervous but we want to do what we can to help find a cure for the disease that took Mark from us. Every penny helps, so if you can, please donate online at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ericaabbifireandglass.”
Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland’s head of fundraising, said: “I’d like to thank Erica and Abbi for taking on such a brave challenge for MND Scotland, especially Abbi at the age of just 14. The money they have raised will to go towards helping MND Scotland provide financial, practical and emotional support for people affected by MND across Scotland, and fund vital research towards a cure.
Do you have a fundraising story, or a personal story, you'd like to share in the press to raise awareness of MND? Contact Niamh and Craig in the Communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0141 332 3903.