Ward Sheehan has spent the past year running to raise awareness and much-needed funds to support people living with motor neurone disease – and on March 2, he finished the last 500m with someone very dear to him.

When his father, Doug, was diagnosed with MND in March 2023, Ward realised just how little funding organisations like MND NSW received, and that we were reliant on donations to ensure that families like his received the support they needed at every stage of their MND journey.

“MND NSW has just supported mum and dad like nothing else, it’s just been amazing,” Ward said.

“I wanted to give a bit back for all the things MND NSW has done for them. The amount of equipment dad has received, the support from his advisor Karen has been incredible, and mum and dad can’t speak highly enough of her – she calls them and ducks in to see them whenever she’s in the area. It’s amazing what MND NSW provides for support.”

As a youngster, Ward did a lot of running at athletics, and his dad was there for him.

“For me, my biggest childhood memory was that dad used to pick me up from athletics 4-5 nights a week – running has been a big part of our lives, I usually used to do the 400 and 800 metre races,” he said.

Despite the importance of running for Ward and his family, he admits choosing to run 3650km in aid of MND NSW was a ‘spur of the moment’ decision.

“MND doesn’t get a lot of funding, so I did this to help. I also did this for awareness about MND as well. With dad on the journey, it’s been keeping him motivated as well, and given him focus.”

“When I did the marathon, he got up at 5am watching my cousin and I go round the circuit – I Face-timed him for the last kilometre, we were there running along with the crowd, and I had his face on my shirt, everyone was cheering.”

After taking part in the Gold Coast Marathon, Brisbane Marathon, and holding an ice bucket challenge and fundraising barbecue, Ward’s final challenge was to complete his 3,650 km – and he’s managed to do this 22 days earlier than planned. He’ll now wrap up the final 500m with his father by his side.

“I was really keen to see my parents and get in to do the last bit with dad, it was a very special 500m,” Ward said.

“We were in Batemans Bay doing it along the foreshore of the beach – then afterwards a few of mum and dad’s friends were set to join in for a fish and chips and a bit of a celebration.”

While his challenge would have been difficult for anyone, Ward can see the challenges his father is facing as a result of MND.

“It’s been really aggressive for dad. He’s nearly lost his voice, and he’s in a power wheelchair now. But he’s still very positive,” he said.

“I do enjoy a run, but haven’t run this far – usually put in 1,000km to 1,500km per year,”

“I started with a target of 3,000km and to raise $5000. Then my employer donated $3k within first few weeks, so thought I could up that pretty quick, then a lot of other businesses donated a lot of money.”

“Then I decided to up it 3560km – and set myself the challenge. Especially when a lot of people started donating, it was motiving to do the extra little bit for them.”

Ward has now raised over $11,000 to support MND NSW, and ran the equivalent of Cape Tribulation to Melbourne. We’d like to say a big thank you for his amazing efforts, helping us support people living with MND, their families and carers and ensuring we can be there to assist at every stage of their MND journey.

If you’d like to support Ward, you can make a donation to his fundraising page here.

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