PAT O’Hara says she “can’t stop” and “won’t stop” until Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is wiped from the face of the earth.
The Wagga MND campaigner has urged Riverina people to support AFL legend Neale Daniher’s fundraising and awareness drive to pump money into the disease that receives “virtually no funding”.
Mrs O’Hara continues to run the annual Walk to D-Feet MND fundraiser after losing her husband to the degenerative disease four years ago.
“People have got to realise that it’s more than just putting a bucket over your head,” she said, speaking of the famous ice bucket challenge.
“I just hope people treat it as seriously as it comes.”
Mrs O’Hara admits to a certain nativity of the illness before it hit home, and remembers thinking it “would never happen to you”.
“I think it’s time people grasp that it can happen to them,” she said. “It can happen to anyone of us.”
The medical community understands very little about the illness, with its causes unknown and no current cure.
According to MND Australia figures, the death rate of the disease has doubled in Australia over the past 25 years.
“There’s a huge incidence of it here in the Riverina,” Mrs O’Hara said.
“If we can get money for research and keep that momentum going then that would be fantastic.
“The worst part is just the total not knowing what will happen – and the realisation that there’s nothing that anyone can do.”
Daniher is patron of the Cure for MND Foundation and is gearing up for the Big Freeze at the G, which will dunk footy stars in a pool of ice on June 8 to raise much-needed funds.
Wagga woman Dorothy Vearing, who is Daniher’s sister, described local support – particularly within the Riverina Football League (RFL) – as “fantastic”.
"So many people have offered to help out in some way,” she said.
“It’s been a really tough ride for Neale. He’s just trying to raise funds and awareness as much as he can, and if we can do anything in any way then that’s really positive.”
Ms Vearing said she would write to RFL clubs to gauge interest for a charity match.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.