I met Jan Battles a few years ago when we worked for the same Publisher. Jan was walking with the aid of a stick then and I thought privately to myself that it was more than a sprained ankle. Jan confirmed a few months later she had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease. Something I knew little of, only that everyone was doing the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ to raise money for ALS or Motor Neurone as it’s known in Ireland. With a bit more research I was to understand the full impact of MND. It’s a cruel disease that attacks the motor functions of the body, leading to loss of control of movement and eventually all movement, even the lungs. The younger the person the more aggressive the disease attacks the body.
Jan was a bright and bubbly person and through her disease and pain she smiled and tried to carry on as much as she could. She was amazing. With her connections and friends she created an army of fundraisers. She even got Gary Barlow on board! People hosted cake sales, did runs anything that would help in raising funds for Motor Neurone Ireland. Kodaline even ran two fundraising gigs for her. I got on board and used my triathlon training at the time to run three triathlons with the goal of raising €1000. Ambitious as I thought it was I did it and was delighted to add to ‘Jan’s army’ fund. She called me a superwoman but I was only a mere mortal in comparison to Jan.
Along with the masses of people who supported Jan she raised over €40,000. A testament to the person she was and always will be in the minds and hearts of her friends and anyone who met her.
Jan worked as long as she could with the help of Motor Neurone Ireland. She was provided a motorised wheelchair to get around and towards the end of her life she received support to make her as comfortable as possible. We didn’t get to see Jan for the last year of her life but we were given updates by her close friends. Some of them helped her daily to get through her day at work.
Each year I try to raise something for Motor Neurone and with the help and support of the Willie Duggan staff we ran a ‘Drink Tea for MNDA’ on the 21st of June. Jan didn’t benefit from a cure for Motor Neurone but with continued fundraising it may be possible for future sufferers, or at the very least make their lives more comfortable.
If you would like to raise funds or donate to Motor Neurone Ireland please visit www.imnda.ie