Ex-Rangers defender Fernando Ricksen vows to fight disease
Former Rangers defender Fernando Ricksen has launched a foundation to raise funds for medicine and research into Motor Neurone disease.
Ricksen, 39, was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 and has vowed to beat it.
He hopes the foundation will help provide support for those with MND and their families.
The former Dutch international was given just 12 to 18 months to live when he was diagnosed.
He was supported at the launch on Friday by former Rangers team-mates Nacho Novo and Charlie Miller.
Ricksen said in a statement that he found out he had the disease following a hernia operation.
He said: “It’s now more than two-and-a-half years since I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and, looking back, it would appear the symptoms began when I went in for what was a routine operation on a troublesome hernia. That was in February, 2013, and eight months later I received the bombshell news that I had MND.
“I was devastated. I couldn’t believe it, and it took some time for those words to sink in.
“At the time of the diagnosis, I was given somewhere between a year and 18 months to live.
“Now, two years and eight months later, I’m still here - and literally fighting for my life. During this period, I have found out exactly what it means to live with MND every day.
“Every hour of every day, the people closest to me - and myself - share that experience, and every day we do everything in our power to fight this demon.
“It is hard, in fact sometimes it’s nigh on impossible, but the alternative is just to give up. For me and my loved ones, though, that will never be an option.”
MND is a fatal condition which causes the degeneration of the body’s motor nerve cells.
Since his diagnosis, Ricksen has raised more than £80,000 for the charity MND Scotland, but now he is backing a new campaign bearing his name.
He added: “Another thing that keeps me going is the support and love from people around the world. I feel it and, believe me, it is a big help.
“Since my diagnosis, I have worked hard to raise awareness for the MND Foundations. I have also used my time to raise money. But the money I have raised has been used mainly for research. And having lived with this demon for so long, I have realised that people need help now.
“It is fantastic that research is being carried out to find a cure for this awful disease but that isn’t helping people who are currently struggling with MND.
“In all the time I have been living with MND, no foundations or researcher has ever got in touch to offer their help or even to ask if I would like to try a new medicine. And if no help is forthcoming from the foundation, then I have no alternative but to try and help sufferers in another way - hence the reason for the inauguration of the Fernando Ricksen Foundation.
“This is MND Awareness Week - so I felt the time was right to try and come up with something tangible which would help people now.
“All monies raised through the Fernando Ricksen Foundation will be used to help MND patients and their families. It will not go to seemingly never ending research.
“I want to try and make the time that patients and their families have left together as comfortable as possible.
“You can help me make this dream become a reality.”
For more information: www.fernandoricksenfoundation.org