First MND walk draws 200

An inaugural walk to raise awareness about motor neurone disease attracted more than 200 people in Dunedin yesterday.

The Walk 2 D'Feet MND campaign was launched in Tauranga two years ago and spread to Christchurch last year.

This year walks took place in six cities - Tauranga, Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin.

The 35-minute Dunedin walk went from the start of the harbourside walkway/cycleway at the Otago Boat Harbour to Ravensbourne and back.

Event organiser Dylan Mead said he was pleased with the turnout, which included some sufferers of the disease.

''I feel like we really started to break the ice with raising awareness about motor neurone disease,'' Mr Mead said.

Organisers had been planning the event since February, he said.

There were not as many volunteers as he had hoped for but those who were there were helpful.

''We are definitely looking to continue it for years to come.''

Motor neurone disease is the name given to a group of diseases which cause nerve cells to degenerate and die.

As a result, muscles gradually weaken and waste away, causing loss of mobility in limbs and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

It is estimated one in 15,000 New Zealanders have the terminal disease. There is no known cure and no effective treatment.

• About 200 people in Dunedin yesterday took positive steps towards raising awareness of dementia and reducing the stigma associated with it.

Alzheimers Society Otago manager Julie Butler said more people walked from the University of Otago School of Dentistry in Great King St to the Dunedin Community House car park in Moray Pl yesterday than at the same event last year. 

''There was a lot more enthusiasm ... what they are doing by coming on this walk is showing support for people living in the community with dementia and memory loss,'' Mrs Butler said.

More walkers were attracted this year because more people were talking about dementia than ever before, she said.

Ms Butler hoped more people would step up for the walk next year.

Yesterday's walk was one of 21 around New Zealand, including Alexandra, Invercargill and Timaru.


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