Fund for Glenrothes man tops £23k in six months

Friends rallied round to play an 'Old Firm' match to help Joni (centre)
Friends rallied round to play an 'Old Firm' match to help Joni (centre)

The family of a young dad with motor neurone disease say they are ‘overwhelmed’ by the generosity of others after more than £23,000 was raised in just six months.

A massive fundraising effort was launched in April to help 34-year-old Joni Halley, a former Bell Baxter High School pupil, who was diagnosed with the degenerative disease a year ago.

And thanks to an amazing response, enough was raised not only to fully adapt Joni’s home in Glenrothes, but also to make a £3000 donation to MND Scotland.

Quizzes, sponsored walks, race nights, half-marathons, coffee mornings and even a 24-hour sponsored cycle - you name it, people both in Cupar and Glenrothes have thrown themselves into fund-raising events.

They’ve raised the £19,000 that was needed to top up Fife Council’s contribution towards installing a wet room and disabled bedroom facilities in the house Joni shares with his wife Becky and daughters Iona (8) and Aimee (4).

A quiz night in the CISWO club in Glenrothes alone raised over £5000, while an ‘Old Firm’ match in Cupar raised a further £3000.

And after hearing of Joni’s plight, Auchtermuchty-based Sterling Furniture also chipped in by donating a £1000 tip and tilt chair.

“Unfortunately Joni has no mobility at all now so the adaptations have made a big difference to the family,” said Joni’s sister, Michelle Smith.

“We can’t thank people enough for the way they’ve rallied round to help.”

Joni’s parents, Shirley and Ian, who are well-known in Cupar, also expressed their thanks by inserting a notice in the Gazette’s sister paper, the Fife Herald, last month.

“ We are overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity,” they said.

“A heartfelt thanks from us all.”

Following his devastating diagnosis, Joni’s family set up a dedicated Facebook page, Joni’s-Bucket-Fund, which gives details of how to donate to MND Scotland.

Although enough has been raised to make the necessary adaptations to Joni’s house, the family intend to keep the campaign open permanently .

A previously fit young man with a demanding outdoor job, Joni developed blurred vision and began tripping and falling.

His symptoms were initially put down to a trapped nerve and it wasn’t until some months later that he was told he had MND.

Motor neurone disease is a rare condition that progressively damages parts of the nervous system, leading to muscle weakness and causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

The cause of the condition isn’t yet known and as yet there is no cure.

Fellow sufferer Gordon Aikman (30), who’s from Kirkcaldy, has been honoured for his work in raising funds for research .