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Event raises $60k for MND

Darren Edwards, Tweet Bird, Richard Etti and Bevan Edwards show Morris Edwards their new hairdos. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

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Almost $60,000 was raised for Motor Neuron Disease New Zealand at a sold-out fundraising dinner and auction held at Makoura College Saturday two weeks ago.

Donations came from as far afield as Australia, the Cook Islands and Vietnam. Two hundred and eighty people attended the dinner and 400-500 people were involved altogether.

Almost $60,000 was raised for Motor Neuron Disease New Zealand.

As well as raising funds, the aim of the event was to increase awareness of Motor Neuron Disease. According to Motor Neurone Disease New Zealand, two people are diagnosed with MND in New Zealand each week.

Event co-ordinator Tweet Bird said the disease often goes under the radar.

“It was just to let the public know what’s going on,” Bird said, “There’s a lot of people now who have connections to MND. We have the highest rates in the world.”

Bird’s friend Ian MacLennan died of MND 18 years ago.

His friend Morris [Maurie] Edwards was diagnosed earlier this year.

He believes there are four or five people in Wairarapa who have the disease.

“It’s a debilitating illness,” Bird said.

“Once you know the person’s got it, they’re condemned.”

Auctioned items included beauty vouchers and rugby tickets, as well as many exciting travel experiences.

One of Edwards’ grandchildren, who had been selling raffle tickets earlier in the evening, cheekily offered to fetch dessert for some older women at a cost, to raise further funds.

Edwards’ sons, son-in-law and Bird, offered up their hair for the cause.

Styling rights were auctioned off to the highest bidder and then brought to life by a team led by hairdresser Cathy Davys, with Bird’s being the most distinctive design.

Edwards’ labradoodle also got a makeover to support the cause.

Bird planned to sport his crazy do for the next two weeks and said it had been a good talking point for raising awareness of MND after the event.

“This is nothing compared to what Maurie’s going through.”

He hoped the money raised by the fundraiser would help towards finding a prevention for the disease.

“It’s not going to happen in my time, but maybe in my grandchildren’s time.”

Hamill Realty was one of the companies sponsoring the event.

Managing director Prue Hamill said many of the volunteers came from an ex-military background, including herself and Bird.

When approached to take part, she changed her holiday plans to make herself available.

“I do it because it’s our community. You’ve got to care about it,” Hamill said.

“It was just the right thing to do.”

Hamill has previously held charity auctions and said this one went particularly well.

“I feel from covid people have become so community-minded, and they’ve become so much more giving.”

Joe Power travelled from Whanganui to volunteer at the event.

As a retired caterer, he worked with about 12 other former army chefs to prepare the night’s meal.

“It was so great to be a part of it,” Power said.

“Cooking for 300 people is no small task.”

Power was friends with Bird, MacLennan, and Edwards.

MacLennan’s death had hit him hard.

“We all served, though not at the same time. We have one of those unique bonds between us.”

“There seems to be no progress … if raising money like this can help the research, then it’s got to be good.”

Another former military man had been driving to Napier when he heard about the event, Power said.

He decided to make a detour and helped with the dishwashing.

Power was impressed by the comradeship shown by volunteers and the community.

“When the call came out to help with the dinner, it was an easy answer,” he said, “I was simply blown away by the generosity of the local community. I was just so impressed with the local spirit.”

Donations can still be made to the fundraising account 01-0682-0134726-11.

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