Men in tights lead fight against Motor Neuron Disease
NEW South Wales felt like a world away for Brett Brooks when his sister was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease.
Now, he's helping her and countless others with an idea that formed out of a joke in Rockhampton Crossfit gym, Vidafit.
Brett's once "energetic and fit” sister Jodie began to worry when she started to get tingling sensations in her left hand.
Her long journey to diagnosis was about to begin.
"My sister was diagnosed with MND a little over three years ago,” Brett said.
"Because there's no actual way to diagnose MND you have to basically go through a series of tests to rule out every other possible disease before they can pretty much say, 'well it has to be MND then'.”
After years of countless tests, Jodie finally got answers - but the numbness had spread.
"She started that process about two years before she was diagnosed and in that time she basically lost movement in her hand, then it progressed up to her arm,” Brett said.
"Then she was diagnosed and since then, as all MND people do, they degenerate over time, usually fairly quickly after diagnosis because diagnosis takes so long.
"There's no treatment and there's no cure at all.”
Jodie began to lose feeling in her legs at the end of last year and is now wheelchair bound most of the time.
The idea to make MND tights began as a joke among friends, but soon became reality thanks to the help of Rockhampton based Ark Sportswear's owner, Cindy McCulloch.
"It got started basically because at Crossfit one day. I was talking with a few other guys and we got talking about people wearing tights... and how most women wear tights but it's kinda frowned against for men,” Brett said.
"We just kinda joked about how we should get tights and turn up one day just to make people laugh, but then I got thinking.
"Cindy went ahead and designed the entire look of the tights herself with the logo and the branding.”
Brett's other sisters and mother loved the idea and wanted a pair for themselves.
From there, with the permission of MND Australia, Brett and Cindy decided they'd "put it out there” and ended up selling 331 pairs in their first pre-order.
So far, around $6,500 has been donated to MND Australia from sales.
Cindy said the response to the tights has been absolutely amazing and opened her eyes to how important MND awareness was.
"Even my regular customers, they're telling stories about how their mum had died of MND, their brother or their uncle, or they know someone or went to school with someone,” she said.
"It's just amazing how many people are affected by it, but its not that out there in the community.”
To buy your own pair and support the cause go to www.arksportswear.com.au.