Walking to spread the word

Sisters Sonya Boloski and Joanne Staindil with their brother Gavin Boloski. Mr Boloski and his family feel it is their duty to spread the word about motor neurone disease. They family is hosting a walk in Pakenham in May. 192555_01.

By Jessica Anstice

The simple feeling of a foot cramp changed Gavin Boloski’s life forever.

“I first noticed it in December 2017 when I was running. I noticed my muscles were getting tired and cramping, and then all of a sudden my right foot was starting to drop a little bit,” he said.

After many doctors’ appointments and tests, the Pakenham man was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in June of 2018 at just 57-years-old.

“I never really thought it would be MND. It’s just not something you think about,” he said.

“It was in my feet to start off with and it’s slowly progressing into my hands, it’s like a cramp in my hands that I feel and I’m losing weight.

“I’ve got supports on to keep my feet up so I don’t fall over. Last year, before I got my supports I took a bad fall and split my head open. I had to go to hospital and get stitches.”

The incurable, life-shortening disease can affect a sufferer’s ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe.

“For me, it’s a personal embarrassment because people don’t know. It’s not a visible disease,” he said.

“I’m a coach driver and I know that my works going to come to an end sometime. I’ve already had to stop long distance trips.

“My problem now is that I can’t walk and carry any heavy weights. I tried to pick up a 20 litre container of water the other day and I couldn’t carry it.”

As research into MND continues, there are possible breakthroughs but it is crucial that people with the condition get involved with the testing.

“Everything is progressing for me; the only good thing that’s coming up is that I can put down to go onto the trial in June,” he said.

“It’s the second trial of the new drug MND Victoria is testing.”

Mr Boloski said he takes every day as it comes.

“No good thinking about what’s to come later on,” he added.

“A lot of people ask me why I’m still working. If I didn’t work my health would deteriorate much quicker, so still managing to work keeps me active and stops me from thinking about what’s going on.”

Mr Boloski, whose father died from the horrible disease, said, “I like to think that I do fight it as much as I can.”

Him and his family feel it is their duty to spread the word about MND and will be hosting a walking event to create awareness.

The community is encouraged to take part in the Walk to D’feet MND event around Lakeside in Pakenham on Saturday May 4.

“My first thought about it was that it is the only way we can help Gavin,” Mr Boloski’s sister and event organiser Sonya Boloski said.

“By getting the community involved, hopefully it will become an annual event.

“There are none of these benefit-walks in Pakenham and Pakenham has some great locations for it.”

Ms Boloski floated the idea late last year and now encouraged everyone to register either as an individual, a team or family.

The event will kick off with registrations at 10.30am, followed by the official opening at 11.45am and walking between 12pm and 12.45pm.

Following the walk, the community is welcome to stick around for a rotary barbecue and various children’s activities.

“From my point of view, we’ve been influenced by having seen walks done elsewhere and it seems like a really good way of galvanising the community and a lot of this is about community awareness,” Mr Boloski’s other sister Joanne Staindl said.

“Another thing about having a walk is that just about everyone we know can walk or if they’re not able to walk well, they can still participate.

“From a community engagement point of view, it’s something that everyone can be involved with.”

To register for the walk, visit: https://www.mycause.com.au/events/walktodfeetmnd

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