Geelong’s Chris Hall has a goal – to raise as much money for motor neurone disease (MND) as possible. And in just under four years of fundraising, Chris has ticked over $30,000 to support research towards finding a cure for the disease. His quest began after work colleague Jenny Simko, a nurse at Barwon Health, was diagnosed with MND. She passed away 14 months later in 2015.
“Until then I didn’t know what MND was. I read up on it and found there was no treatment and no cure.”
Chris, who is confined to a wheelchair through Spina Bifida thought: “How can I raise money and help raise awareness of this disease?”
“There are now all sorts of treatments and preventions now for Spina Bifida but learning that there is no cure for the disease really got to me.”
Chris decided he could raise awareness for his charity work via ‘Wheel4MND’ – an initiative where he is wheeling 50km each month. This led to people wanting to sponsor his wheeling.
Chris had also hoped to illustrate the importance of fitness for those confined to a wheelchair and still tries to wheel the 50km a month along Eastern Beach for fitness, wellbeing and mental health.
But his fundraising focus has turned to music events, trivia nights, raffles and community barbecues. “I’m always trying to figure out new ways to raise funds for MND research.”
His mission to help others has touched many others around him, including Bellarine Storm Basketball which will partner with Chris to raise funds in 2020, and the local music community.
Recently donations from local musicians (Pearl Jam Oz, Marks Brothers, Chrissy Burrell and Stevie Burr Music), the Black Hatt Hotel and Dominos Pizza raised $845 – enough to exceed that $30,000 mark.
People can follow Chris’ wheeling routes and keep up-to-date on his fundraising events and others on the Wheel4MND Facebook Group – such as the upcoming Rock Off MND concert – another fundraising charity inspired by Jenny Simko. This is where he will present the cheque. This year’s event is at Deakin Waterfront on March 14 5pm – 11pm https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rock-off-mnd-2020-tickets-87774013437
To join the Wheel4MND Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Wheel4MND/
However, recent changes to Facebook has meant the group lost about 400 of its 1300 members, and Chris’ next goal is to bring that membership back up to 1000.
“I advertise the fundraising events through Facebook and it allows people to see what’s happening and get involved; so I really hope that anyone who used to follow us or who is interested, checks in and joins the Facebook group.”
Chris will present a cheque in March to MND Victoria, as he has done each year since his started fundraising to find a cure for MND. His charity work has inspired many people in the Geelong region and the MND community, and has been recognised in 2019 with a Geelong award for People with a Disability and a Pride of Australia Medal.
By Deb Howcroft
Photo: supplied by Chris Hall