When Bob Delaney bought a fundraising pen from Helen Gates, wife of former Lismore mayor Bob Gates, during Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Week in March, 2005, he thought he was doing his bit for charity.
Helen asked me if I had a family member with Motor Neurone Disease and I said no, recalled Bob. It was one of those prophetic moments.
Weeks later Bob was diagnosed with MND, an incurable condition that progressively degenerates the nerves and eventually causes total paralysis. The cause is unknown, there is no cure and very often death occurs within two to five years of diagnosis.
The diagnosis is quite bleak, said Bob, and everything you read is very blunt, but what the literature doesnt tell you is there are people who are surviving.
On average the disease takes three or four years to run its course but 10 per cent of MND sufferers are alive after 10 years and some live for more than 20. At this stage only Bobs speech and breathing have been affected, which hasnt stopped him living his life, loving his wife Jenny and their three children, and cycling long distances for fun and fundraising.
I remember being in a black hole for a couple of weeks after the diagnosis, said Bob, but then I heard about two young guys who were killed instantly in a car accident near Mullumbimby and I thought Im alive, and theyre dead and its as simple as that. Now I just take the approach that Im here, I can do things, Ive got two arms and two legs and they still work.
They work so well that Bob is planning to cycle 100km next Tuesday, September 12, to raise money for MND research and hes appealing to the community to sponsor his ride or simply make a donation. All proceeds will go directly to the Northern Rivers MND Support Group, whose president, Helen Gates, lost her husband Bob to MND in 2002 just seven months after he was diagnosed.
If you want to help post a cheque or money order to the Northern Rivers Motor Neurone Disease Support Group, c/- Helen Gates, 10 Wade Street, Lismore, NSW, 2480. Or deposit your donation directly into the Northern Rivers Motor Neurone Disease Support Group (Account No: 86625) at the Southern Cross Credit Union in Woodlark Street.
If you want to sponsor Bob directly or get details of the cycle route so you can cheer him on, give him a call on 0432 169 386.
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