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Family praise ‘generous’ community for £12,000 donation And now they want to raise £1million to fund motor neurone disease research

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THEfamily of a local man living with motor neurone disease (MND), has praised the generosity of the community for raising over £12,000 to support them.

And now 43-year old Alex Francis and his wife Laura – who have two children, Lois aged 10 and Jago aged 8 – have pledged to raise £1million to help fund research into a cure for the disease – and so far they have raised over £2,300.

Alex was diagnosed in May last year with MND – a disease that affects the nerves (motor neurones) in the brain and spinal cord, which can affect how a person walks, talks, eats, drinks and breathes.

In response to his diagnosis, friends launched a fundraising page to help raise money for equipment and adaptations in the home.

The ‘ambitious’ target of £4,704 was surpassed within a matter of days, and so far £12,390 has been raised, helping the family to purchase a new mattress, stair-lift, electric tricycle to help Alex’s mobility, and adapt their bathroom into a wheelchair-accessible shower room.

Alex’s wife Laura told Frome Times, “It is incredible. We are totally in awe of the generosity of our friends and family – it’s already made a massive difference to us. Everybody is so kind and so generous – and at a terrible time for us, where we were really low, the fact that so many people were prepared to be so generous made us feel loved and part of our  community. We are quite humbled, and Alex is really touched by it.

“We have also had contact from a lot of people who can’t give money, but have helped us with their time – preparing meals for our freezer, clearing out space in our garage, and the donation of an old exercise bike for Alex – it’s been amazing.

“This time last year Alex ran an off-road marathon  in December, and we both ran the Transalpine Run – a 255km race across the Alps – in September. He can now only manage a few steps, even with walking sticks or a walking aid – it’s been a rapid change, and it has been hard to come to terms with.

“But Alex is still swimming – he swims once a week at Vobster Quay (an inland diving centre in Radstock) – we were able to buy a thermally-lined wetsuit for Alex – the water was seven degrees the other day! However, Alex says the cold water makes him feel alive.”

With donations still coming in, the family are now hoping to raise enough money to fund an extension to their house, allowing space for a wetroom and a bedroom for Alex on the ground floor.

“We’ve been told by the professionals that the stairlift will eventually become unmanageable, it will get too difficult to get on and off,” explained Laura.  “The professionals said that what tends to happen is that if the patient only has space upstairs, they become restricted to that upstairs space and don’t get to interact with their family and become isolated.”

About their £1million fundraising pledge, Laura said, “We started doing some fundraising – we organised a night swim and raised £500, but we have set a goal of £1million towards research into a cure for MND – as a legacy for Alex. And now there are plans afoot for a big event in the summer.”

To donate to the Francis family, visit:
https://uk.go fundme.com/f/help-ensure-alex-can-continue-to-live-at-home

To support the family’s £1million fundraiser for research into MND, visit:
https://alex-vs-als.muchloved.com

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