Debbie Atkins, from Hartree in the Scottish Borders, is taking on the global MND24 challenge in March to raise funds for charity MND Scotland, on what would have been her mother’s 90th birthday.
Debbie, lost her mum, Kay Marnoch, to motor neurone disease (MND) in 2008, is taking on a sponsored silence because before her mum passed away, she lost the ability to speak.
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.
She said: “MND is a cause close to my heart. I lost my mother to MND in 2008. I cared for her at home virtually to the end and witnessed her physical change from an active, full of life, Gran, in her mid-70s as she battled against this cruel disease. The one thing she never lost, not even at the end, was her resilient spirit, her sense of hope, and her wonderful sense of fun.”
Debbie joined MND Scotland’s Board of Trustees in 2021, to use her skills and experience to help support the charity, and is now looking for more ways to fight back against MND.
MND24 is a challenge bringing together charities, sporting organisations and passionate individuals from across the world to take part in one big, brilliant, 24-hour challenge, all to raise funds for MND.
MND24 asks individuals to take part in any sport or other activity for 24 hours at any time during March 2022, and Debbie, who admits to talking constantly (even to the dogs!), has opted for a 24-hour sponsored silence for MND Scotland.
She said: “I want to do something to raise much needed funds as part of the global MND24 challenge during March. I am also delighted to take on this challenge on Monday 14th March as this was my Mum’s birthday and she would have celebrated her 90th birthday this year, so this feels a special thing to do in her memory.
“There is also a profound element to my challenge. Towards the end, my Mum lost the ability to speak. I hope to raise at least £20 for each of the 24 hours that I will be silent. This may not seem a very big challenge but I firmly believe it is better to do something than nothing, and as a chatty person this is by no manner of means going to be easy for me!
“All funds raised will directly help people living with MND in Scotland and will help take us a step closer to finding a cure for MND through ground-breaking research, such as the MND-SMART clinical trials.”
Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland’s Head of Fundraising, said: “MND24 is a fantastic challenge, encouraging people to come together in March to do something in 24 hours for our cause.
“I want to thank Debbie for taking part in this challenge for MND Scotland. 80% of people with MND will lose the ability to speak and need to use an aid, like a tablet or eye gaze, to communicate. A 24-hour sponsored silence can give people a little insight into what this is like.
“To help people with MND who may lose the ability to talk, MND Scotland provides funding so they can record their own voice for free. The recording is then stored as a digital voice and can be used later, on a device, if needed. This is just one way that fundraisers, like Debbie, change lives for people living with MND, by giving them their voice back. We couldn’t do this without the generosity of our supporters.”
Whether you want to follow in Debbie’s footsteps and take on a sponsored silence, or you want to get a relay team together to cycle or run for 24-hours, or maybe you want to make up your own challenge – the ideas are endless!
To get inspired or to join Team MND Scotland, visit the MND24 challenge here. You can also support Debbie by donating to her fundraising page here.