SCOTLAND on Sunday readers have helped raise more than £33,000 in just a week after reading a young Scottish man’s account of being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Gordon Aikman, the director of research at the Better Together campaign, said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he has received since his story was published.
He said donations started pouring in the moment his story went online at midnight last Saturday night. His story has been viewed more than 38,000 times in a week.
Aikman, who is flying to Reykjavik today as part of his plan to make the most of the time he has left, said: “I’d only raised a few hundred pounds before that, but after midnight, before I’d even seen it, people started donating through the night. Friends on Twitter, friends on Facebook, so many people. It reached £24,000 in 24 hours. The most anyone has raised for MND Scotland is £47,000 so I’d love to break that and hit £50,000,” he said.
Aikman, 29, who has been told he could be in a wheelchair by Christmas, said he has also been heartened by the messages he received from politicians from both sides of the independence referendum campaign, as well as strangers who read his story and wanted to offer their support.
“It created quite a reaction. It’s quite overwhelming. Alex Salmond tweeted a message of support and I was really, really chuffed that what had happened to me was not being seen as a political thing. I got messages from politicians like Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Miliband too,” he said.
“But one of the most touching things was that people who are strangers are getting in touch with their story about how their life has been affected by MND. I was in a bakery in Easter Road and one of the assistants had read my story. He wouldn’t let me pay for the croissants and cakes and when I got home I noticed he had written on the bag ‘If there’s anything we can do, let us know, we’re here for you.’”
Aikman, who grew up in Kirkcaldy, said while he is determined to enjoy every minute he has left, with plans to travel to Orkney, Geneva and the United States, he will keep campaigning to make sure all MND sufferers get free personal care.
Cosla guidance states terminally ill people should not be charged for personal care, but campaigners say many people under 65 are being charged when they should be exempt.
Susan Webster, head of policy and campaigns, MND Scotland, said: “We have been blown away by what Gordon has achieved this week. In just a few days he has raised almost £40,000 for research into MND and raised awareness of this little-known illness right across the UK. His powerful and inspirational personal account has touched so many people from all walks of life.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is clear that people who are terminally ill should not be charged for their care. We are working closely with Cosla’s charging guidance group to ensure that this is the case for everyone in Scotland and that there is consistency across all local authorities.”