Sporting Icons Lend Voices to Motor Neuron Disease

November 18, 2014

by Alex Mitchley


Rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen and the J9 Foundation have found a helping hand in raising awareness of MND and the fight for a cure in Bestmed who says society can no longer turn a blind eye to this disease.

Van der Westhuizen who formed the J9 Foundation after being diagnosed with MND in 2011 said “We believe with the work that has been done to date, backed by this initiative, we will have opened a lot of people’s eyes and educated many people who may have not been aware of this rare disease.”

The PSA which is aimed at catching the attention and the hearts of the public includes two of van Der Westguizen’s former springbok teammates and 1995 rugby world cup champions’ Joel Stransky and Francois Pienaar.

But it is not only the rugby fraternity that has turned out to give their support to the cause, sporting icons such as Olympic swimmer Penny Heyns, Golfing extraordinaire Gary Player have also climbed on board.

Bestmed CEO Dries La Grange said it is time for the private healthcare sector to take a stand and to work towards understanding the causes of rare diseases such as MND.

The sporting heroes in the PSA, the J9 Foundation and Bestmed has also called upon the public to support this campaign by donating money to the J9 Foundation in a bid to raise funds for the research of MND.

If you are interested in donating visit:

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a very rare condition that affects the nervous system, which affects one person in every 50,000 is diagnosed with MND each year.

It can affect people of any age, but most affected people range between ages of 40 and 70 years.

MND is an incurable form of progressive neurodegeneration – over time the nerves in the spine and brain progressively lose function, which results in death.

People with MND have a life expectancy of two to five years, from day of diagnosis.

Apart from research the J9 Foundation’s contribution to its beneficiaries include:

  • Financial support: The foundation strives to support these beneficiaries financially as far as possible. To date, they have shown support by supplying grocery vouchers to mobility and communication aids (including bipap ventilators, Pec tubes, feeds, wheelchairs, hospital beds and nursing staff.)
  • Emotional support: The J9 Foundation has appointed a full time counsellor to support the MND sufferer and their families emotionally and spiritually. One of their main focus areas is to keep beneficiaries positive and stress-free for these are two key areas that have a direct influence on the pace of deterioration associated with this disease.
  • Day to day assistance: As their beneficiaries are faced with new challenges on a daily basis, the foundation strives to assist with any item, advice, counselling or support as the need arises.
  • J9 Moments of Magic: The J9 Foundation endeavours to create opportunities for beneficiaries and their families to realise their last wishes and through the help of individual and corporate donations, they are able to create lasting memories for their beneficiaries with their families.


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