Michael’s girlfriend, Keri Monaghan, found out her dad Andrew was diagnosed with the muscle wasting illness in December 2015.
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.
Michael said, “Motor Neurone Disease is a condition that I knew very little about before learning how it had totally transformed the lives of my girlfriend's dad and his family.
“Over the past three years, Andrew has totally lost the ability to lead an independent life and relies on his family for 24-hour care. Things we take for granted like sleeping, eating and breathing have become daily ordeals and, in dealing with this, the dedication, resilience and strength of character that he and his family have displayed is inspiring.”
Andrew, who set up his own business, with his wife Sandra, has not let his illness stop him from pursuing his passion. Pivotal is their Health, Safety and Environmental training company.
Sandra said, “Andrew experienced unexplained, rapid weight loss and was having difficulty breathing. When he was finally diagnosed with MND, it was Andrew’s wish that Pivotal should continue to trade with me, a self-confessed business novice, stepping up to take the reins of the company. Even in the face of a terminal illness, Andrew has refused to allow his health to interfere with his long-established passion for teaching and investment in the future of Health and Safety training. Andrew continues to mentor from home, he has learned to use eye-gaze software technology which enables him to write blog entries and build a social media presence.”
Drawing on Andrew’s inspirational motivation, Michael took on the ‘Kintyre Way Ultra 2018’ on Saturday 5th May. Starting in Tayinloan runners made their way along one of Scotland’s most scenic long-distance paths to Campbeltown.
"It was a great experience. I suffered a bit with a cramp in my calf for the middle ten miles and thought I might have to drop out but thankfully it went away. The course was brilliant - everything from running on roads to scrambling across rocky beaches. And I was touched by the number of runners that spotted my MND top and wanted to share their story or give me a bit of a boost. Today is the first day I’ve been able to walk around without having had a handful of ibuprofen ... I’m pretty sore!"
On his training Michael, who works for SSE, said “I had done a bit of running in the past and the furthest I had run was 26miles. I was using this to help me get back into shape so the training was pretty tough and sore, but I really wanted to do something that would challenge me while raising money for a great cause.
“Keri and her mum, Sandra, did the zip slide across the Clyde for MND Scotland in April and I had been thinking for a while that I could do something too.
“Then my work started advertising the Kintyre ultra-marathon and I thought it was perfect. SSE paid my race entry and gave me a day off as part of our ‘Be The Difference’ programme, which was great."
Andrew said, ‘I am delighted that Michael decided to push himself through the pain barrier of an ultra-marathon for MND Scotland. I am sure that any funds raised will support MND sufferers and families.’
Iain McWhirter, head of fundraising at MND Scotland, said “We cannot thank Michael enough for taking on this mammoth challenge for MND Scotland. All the money raised will go towards helping us continue to support families, like the Monaghan’s, and fund vital research into a cure. Well done on an amazing achievement.”
If you would like to donate to Michael’s page please visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michael-blair-87 .