Charity mascot Hope the dog journeys for Motor Neurone Disease

Hope the MND mascot braves the wind to spread awareness of MND during his trip to the Nullarbor.
Hope the MND mascot braves the wind to spread awareness of MND during his trip to the Nullarbor.

A CHARITY mascot has joined the ilk of WA’s famous Red Dog as a well-travelled canine after crossing the Nullarbor.

Sorrento resident Peter Wooldridge (76), who has motor neurone disease (MND), sent the Motor Neurone Disease Association of WA’s mascot Hope across the country in a bid to raise awareness about it.

After his sister Ann Harrison and her husband Frank visited recently, Mr Woolridge suggested they take Hope on a photo-journey back to Melbourne.

The couple agreed and snapped photos of Hope at iconic locations along the way.

Mr Woolridge said receiving a diagnosis of the degenerative disease that causes muscle weakness and paralysis last November was the last thing he expected.

“I’ve been a fitness fanatic all my life; I’ve walked every day,” he said. “The first I noticed it was when I was walking in winter last year I came home and my hand felt a bit funny, I thought ‘you poor old bugger you’re getting arthritis’.

“After a time my legs started to get weaker and my finger movement started to diminish so I saw a neurologist at Royal Perth Hospital.”

Mr Woolridge now uses a walking frame to get around and he’s lost strength in his right hand, but his upper body strength is still good and he does weightlifting three times a week.

His wife of 50 years, Helen, is a retired nurse and cares for him.

“MND has no effect on your brain at all, so while my body is slowing down I still have my sense of humour,” he said.

“Everyone has to die eventually; just because I’ve found out I will probably die from MND makes no difference. There is an old saying that ‘where there is life, there is hope’– one day we will find a cure.”

The charity provides care, emotional support, education, and equipment. For more information, call 9346 7355.