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Truckie with MND gets his message to the Prime Minister

When Warren ‘Woz’ Acott set off 11 days ago on an ambitious 800km trip to Canberra, his goal was to get his message across to the people in power – and he’s done exactly that.

On Thursday, March 21, Acott – a truckie of over 40 years who had to give it up after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) – took to the lawns of Parliament House on his ride-on lawnmower.

The aim of the trip was to raise awareness for MND and push for it to be made a notifiable disease, which could go a long way in assisting with future research and in helping those suffering from the debilitating illness to find the help and services they need.

Woz arrives at the lawns of Parliament House. Image: Mow Down MND

The route from his hometown of Toolleen in Victoria to Parliament House may not have been the most direct route but this was deliberate – with stops at Shepparton, Jerilderie, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Gundagai and Yass, due to clusters of MND found within some of these areas.

Several regional areas of NSW, such as the Riverina, Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Leeton have become hotspots for MND and many researchers are continuing to explore possible links with environmental factors.

While 5-10 per cent of instances of MND are genetic, the causes in the remaining 90-95 per cent are unknown.

“Over the last 30 years, the number of motor neurone disease deaths has increased by 250 per cent and that can only be environmental,” Professor Dominic Rowe, of the Macquarie University Motor Neuron Disease Research Centre and the MQ Health MND Clinic, recently told Big Rigs.

Acott’s Mow Down MND ride is something that came together very quickly – and it had to, due to his rapidly declining health.

When Acott first shared news of his plans with Big Rigs last month, he opened up about his heartbreaking story.

Before setting off, he said, “It’s not a protest or a strike. I want to try and get as many people involved as we can – not to follow me, but to meet me on the lawns at Parliament House – and see if they’ve got the guts to say we’re not worth funding.”

Since then, he has completed the 772-kilometre journey to Canberra, of which 434 kilometres was spent on the ride-on lawnmower, pushing in body to the extreme in temperatures that on some days soared to over 40°C.

Despite a set-back – where Acott fell backwards while trying to move himself in his wheelchair and hit his head on the concrete – he was quickly back on the road, joking that his head is harder than concrete!

The aim was to collect as many signatures as possible for a petition to make MND a notifiable disease. And Acott was able to hand this petition over to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese himself, with more than 10,000 signatures.

Acott and his support crew meet the Prime Minister. Image: Mow Down MND

But there’s still more work to do. In sharing the news yesterday, the Mow Down MND team said, “Yes we got to meet with the PM today and this was a goal of the trip. We are so happy to have achieved this goal. But this goal was the first step – or another step really – in front of all those who have stepped before us, to get the government to take action.

“We’ve made some noise. Had a crack. And we hope this will help the politicians start listening to all those people who have been trying to get it notified for years!

“It’s incredible that we’ve gotten this far in such a short time. On the backs of all those that have been campaigning for years to have MND recognised as a notifiable disease. Hopefully our Prime Minister can follow this up and make a real change.”

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The post Truckie with MND gets his message to the Prime Minister appeared first on Big Rigs.

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