Ice bucket hits region

OUR TURN: Katrina Jeffery pours a bucket of ice water over her head as part of an international challenge to raise awareness for motor neurone disease. The challenge has gone viral across social networks.
OUR TURN: Katrina Jeffery pours a bucket of ice water over her head as part of an international challenge to raise awareness for motor neurone disease. The challenge has gone viral across social networks. Marc Stapelberg

THE ICE Bucket Challenge, a worldwide phenomenon to raise money and awareness for motor neurone disease, has come to the Northern Rivers.

Katrina Jeffery, whose husband Chris died of the disease earlier this year, has started the ball rolling and challenged her seven children and all 11 Lismore councillors to take part.

The challenge began in the US about a month ago where motor neurone disease is known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Thousands of people and an ever-growing number of celebrities have taken part, with the fundraising figure sitting at around $22 million and growing rapidly.

The idea is that when you have dumped a bucket of ice water on yourself, you nominate others to do the same. If those people decline, they pay $100 towards the charity. If they accept they pay $10 and nominate others to do the same.

Katrina said it had been an incredibly successful campaign in bringing awareness to the disease.

"I would love to see millions raised in Australia and hopefully I've just kick-started the far north coast for being the leading area for raising money and awareness in Australia," she said.

Katrina said it was incredibly difficult watching her husband waste away, but she was eternally grateful for the support she got from MND NSW.

"MND NSW lent us around $80,000 worth of equipment while Chris was ill. We would have had no quality of life without that equipment. That was hospital beds, electric wheelchairs and electric hoists to move him around. The service they provide is just phenomenal."

Katrina said Chris first started having trouble swallowing fluids and slurring his words. It took another nine months to get a diagnosis of motor neurone disease. He died 11 months later.

"What the disease does, all the nerves that make your muscles work begin to die. As they die, all the muscles waste away. So the person literally just wastes away in front of you. With no treatment and no cure, you have no choice but to do what you can to help them, but to watch them die."

Four other people took the challenge at Katrina's place yesterday, including Lismore councillor Ray Houston. He then challenged council general manager Garry Murphy and council staff.

One of Katrina's children, Sandy, has challenged her boss Andrew Gordon, who has put the challenge to our local members Kevin Hogan and Thomas George.

To donate to Katrina's mycause project click here.


What is MND?

Motor neurone disease is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow, undergo degeneration and die.

Topics:  ice bucket challenge, motor neurone disease

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