Blaxland physiotherapist Jason Adams, 31, admits “he’s not that good at kayaking,” but that hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for a marathon 404 kilometre fundraising paddle over five days to help motor neurone disease (MND) research.

The Massive Murray River Paddle is on from November 19-23 and Adams, who is also head TAFE teacher at Kingswood in Health and Fitness, said he had plenty of opportunity to train in a gym setting “just not out on the water”.

“Training is going well, however I have two little ones at home that makes long training hours hard. After about four hours on the water playing with the kids is always the better option,” he said.

MND is a baffling degenerative disease.  The nerve cells or neurones controlling the muscles degenerate and die. Sufferers progressively lose the use of limbs, and the ability to speak, swallow and breathe, while their mind and senses usually stay intact.

Adams said funding to help find a cure spurs him on with his training on the Nepean River.

“I have treated clients with MND whilst on placement it’s a devastating condition … hopefully there is a new treatment in the future to decease the symptoms and rapid decline of function that this disease causes.”

Adams is a part of the ‘Inspired by Leny’ team – with his uncle Kevin Low and will raise funds for the MND NSW in memory of a family friend, Leny McKenzie, 55, from the Central Coast. She was diagnosed in 2013 and [passed away less than two years later.

He is also kayaking for two locals – Reg and Scott Barrett –  both long-time residents of the Lower Blue Mountains who passed away after a short battle with MND last year. 

Scott, 52, was diagnosed in July 2017, his father Reg, 77, got the same awful news just weeks later – both died less than eight months from first learning of their disease. Their names will be on Adams’ kayak.

A Barrett family spokesperson said “seeing this fast progressing disease take these men from our lives was a very difficult time”. The family said they were proud to be associated with Jason’s fundraising efforts.

The average life expectancy with MND is two to three years from diagnosis and an estimated 1,900 people have MND in Australia.

It’s not Adams’ first efforts at fundraising.

“In December 2013, I cycled solo from Perth back to Penrith to raise money for premature babies unit at Nepean hospital. The 4000km journey took 15 days and long hours on the bike,” he said.

It is the 50th anniversary of the paddle event which takes in the distance from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill. Adams goal is $5000 and to date he has raised $500.

Adams said if “anyone else in the local area is suffering from or has lost a family member from this disease I will add their name to my kayak”. He is holding a fundraising trivia night at O’Donohue’s Pub in Emu Plains on Saturday October 13. 

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