By Alesha Capone
Hoppers Crossing man Dave Steele says that he and his family have experienced “lots of laughs and lots of tears” since he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) less than two years ago.
The degenerative disease attacks nerves and affects movement, speech, swallowing and breathing.
There is no known treatment or cure for MND, which causes two Australians to die every day.
Mr Steele and his wife Kim are encouraging Wyndham residents to join The Shut Up! For MND Challenge which will launch on October 28.
Participants are being asked to not speak for 12 hours to raise funds for MND Victoria’s work to support people with the illness.
Mr and Mrs Steele said they and their two sons – Adam, 21, and Jason, 24 – were “gobsmacked” after Dave’s diagnosis in November 2019, which came about after he experienced foot pain.
At first, Mr Steele was still able to walk, before he moved onto a cane, then a mobile scooter and now an electric wheelchair.
About three weeks ago, Mr Steele’s family began using a hoist to help him in and out of bed.
Mr Steele, 52, said that he used to enjoy playing tennis, cycling and walking.
“It’s very frustrating that I can’t do the things I used to do – that’s probably the hardest thing for me, opposed to the diagnosis itself,” he said.
“It’s been as big a change for Kim as for me, her life has been tipped upside down.”
Mrs Steele, who quit work last year to care for her husband, said MND has not dimmed Mr Steele’s trademark “cheeky humour”.
The couple said that since Mr Steele’s diagnosis, they “couldn’t have survived” without the assistance of MND Victoria which has provided equipment such as a hoist, hospital bed and portable shower for him to use.
Mrs Steele said that without this equipment, Mr Steele would need to live in a clinic.
“Because of them (MND Victoria), he is able to stay at home with his family,” she said.
Mr Steele, who has worked at power solution company Cummins for 32 years, including at Cummins Laverton since 2012, is set to retire later this month.
Last year, Cummins embarked on a series of fundraising activities for MND Victoria, hoping to raise $20,000.
They have since smashed this target and raised more than $44,000, and have set a new goal of $50,000.
“I’m more humbled than anything, I didn’t expect it to go so high,” Mr Steele said.
Mr Steele said he would like to thank MND Victoria, Cummins, his family and everyone who has donated to the cause.