At least 130 people braved the rain to take part in Tauranga's Walk 2 D'Feet MND to raise funds to support people with Motor Neurone Disease and their carers.

The aim of the 3km walk which started at Fergusson Park yesterday, was to raise at least $4000 and even before the walk began there was $1920 in the coffers.

Motor Neurone Disease is the name for a group of diseases that destroy the nerve cells (neurones) that control our muscles.

With no nerves to activate them, the muscles used to walk, speak, hug, and eat gradually stop working and most sufferers die within three years.

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Half of the proceeds from the fundraiser organised by the local branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association of NZ will go towards research to help find a cure and the rest goes to continuing the crucial work of supporting sufferers and their families.

Tauranga mother of two Trish Zingel and her children, who took part in the fundraiser, know first hand how vital this work is.

Ms Zingel said her husband Andrew, 50, died of the disease on May 20 last year having been diagnosed 18 months earlier.

"Because MND is a terminal illness you can often feel quite isolated and having good emotional and practical support is so important.

"Because my husband looked after his father who also died from MND in the late 1990s we knew exactly what was going to happen.

"But nothing can really prepare you for the reality of trying to look after someone you love who is dying from such a cruel debilitating disease. It's been really hard.

"I'm a GP and I thought I had prepared myself for Andrew's death. But unless someone really close to you passes away you have no idea how you're going cope."

Bay of Plenty MND Association branch chairwoman Tanya Gilchrist said she got involved with the organisation after she lost her 62-year-old nana to the disease, and learned her best friend was also diagnosed with the condition.

"Funding for research into finding a cure is so important but so is having enough money to pay the salaries of our field workers who support patients and their families."

Ms Gilchrist said the disease could affect anyone and the event was also aimed at raising awareness of the charity's work.

Facts about Motor Neurone Disease

About 100 people in NZ will die this year

Another 100 people will be diagnosed with it

Most sufferers die within three years

If you want to donate funds or know more visit