Just over a year ago, Newtownabbey man Niall Barton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Since then, incredibly, his family and their circle of friends have raised close to £10,000 towards support for those with the condition and research for a cure.
His daughter Becky was in Australia when she found out her father had the condition, and they both freely admit they knew very little about it.
Now they want to help find a cure.
Becky said: “We set out to raise the money because it is vital a cure for Parkinson’s is found. There have been no significant breakthroughs in medical research around the condition for over half a century now, but cures for other conditions have been found in that time. A cure for Parkinson’s would be like winning the lottery for my family and thousands of others in Northern Ireland.”
Far from feeling sorry for themselves, Becky insists it is about giving something back.
She said: “Most of all, however, our efforts are primarily to give something back because of the support my family has received from Parkinson’s UK. The team here in Northern Ireland has provided a vital source of information and advice.”
Support has been wide-ranging too.
When Becky announced she wanted a team to run the Belfast Marathon in May, she ended up with four!
Other activities carried out have included a fundraising night at a community club, a ballot, and a tow path walk.
“Our friends and family all know how important the support of Parkinson’s UK has been and just what a cure would mean to us,” she said.
Fundraising activities in Northern Ireland are continuing throughout the rest of 2017, with something for everyone over the next two months.
The second half of the year starts with a zip slide fundraiser at Lagan Lookout on August 20.
Cyclists can join the fun with the 95-mile lap of Lough Neagh starting in Dungannon a week later, followed by the Belfast half marathon on September 17 and the Walk for Parkinson’s and Antrim Castle on September 24. There is also a Golf Day at Royal Belfast on September 28.
Everyone is welcome at these events and, with £9282 already raised through the Barton family’s efforts alone this year, all money raised will be going to a worthwhile cause supporting an estimated 3600 people living with Parkinson’s in Northern Ireland and contributing to research towards a cure that would mean so much.