Dave Waugh in the background with his wife is helping Sue Stewart organise a walk around the estuary to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease. Photo / Warren Buckland
by Brenda Vowden
Dave Waugh is one of around a dozen people in Napier and Hastings living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and will be walking the talk in this year's Walk2 'D Feet event on Sunday, January 31. Walk2 'D Feet was established in Britain as a fund raising venture to help fund support workers and research, Dave says.
"That model is now being used throughout Australia and other Commonwealth countries."
This is the fourth walk the group has undertaken which has so far been successful.
"Except for this year where we have been hit by Covid-19 assembly limitations."
An expected 200 to 300 people will join this year's walk around Ahuriri Estuary, situated in close proximity to the Napier Sailing Club, which allows free use of their premises for the event. Dave says he became involved because he has MND.
"It took four years to diagnose — the average. But I found I had the strain of MND called PLS that develops more slowly and is very rare. ALS is the most common and is why MND is called ALS in America."
MND has no known cause and is terminal. It affects sufferers in different ways, but mainly disrupts messages from the brain to certain muscles, causing problems with mobility, speech, motor skills, swallowing and breathing. Most ALS and familial patients have three months to four years life expectancy.
"PLS has the longer span so I, along with others and past carers who understand the disease, got involved to try and help people who are affected to access support. What we need now is to get over Covid-19 and continue to support those who need it."
The goal of the event is to inform the public and raise money for MND sufferers and research. Dave says their support people have been limited in what they can do by where they live.
"Our Hawke's Bay support worker lives in Whakatāne and covers Tauranga to Gisborne and the East Coast as far as Hastings and the surrounding area, across to Taupō and Rotorua and back to Tauranga. This vast area contains around 30-plus patients, but as one dies others take their place."
Dave says some people living with the illness like to remain private, while others prefer to work together to support each other as best they can.
"We are also fortunate in having the voluntary support of some people who have had family members or friends who have died of MND. Their practical knowledge and support is invaluable to those of us who have the disease, and our carers. We need help to enable urgent research into this disease."
■ Walk2 'D Feet, Sunday, January 31, registrations open at 9.30 at the Napier Sailing Club, walk starts at 10.30am. Dogs on lead welcome, prize for best dressed dog. Sailing club will provide refreshments for sale. Raffle prizes; 1st prize Webber BBQ and stand donated by Stihl Shop Napier and Stewart Motor Sport, meat pack and condiments; 2nd prize $200 vouchers for Speights Ale House Napier and 3rd prize is two large bottles of Clearview Blush wine. Anyone wishing to donate to this cause or to sponsor a walker, visit the MND website.