Dan bares knees for awareness campaign

CRAIGAVON postman Dan McAlinden is delivering the post in his shorts for the month of December in order to raise awareness of a rare condition which his son suffers from.

His son Connor, who has Myasthenia Gravis (MG) celebrated his 18th birthday on December 5 – the day Dan started wearing his shorts.

Connor was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis around his 11th birthday after many tests and much debate by the doctors.

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MG, also known as the ‘rag doll’ illness affects one in 10,000 people in the UK and often getting a diagnosis can be a lengthy and frustrating process. It can be confused with a stroke, brain tumor, motor neurone disease and other conditions.

It was initially suggested that Connor might have had a brain tumor.

His father Dan said: “At that time a brain tumor I could understand, as for Myasthenia Gravis it went completely over my head. I had never heard tell of it and the name meant nothing, except for the ‘gravis’ bit. With limited Latin I could decipher that it wasn’t good news.

“Hence my concern about lack of awareness of this illness, medical staff and general public alike need to be more aware. Everyone has heard of MS, ME, MD, Polio, Flu and the like but how many have heard of MG?”

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The Meadowbrook man explained how it came to be that he’s delivering the post in his shorts.

“It started out as a joke,” he said. “I was saying how it wasn’t going to be as cold a winter this year. The boys said to me, I suppose you’ll be coming to work in shorts. Then one of them said he’d give me a fiver if I came into work in shorts.

“That’s where the idea came from to raise money and raise awareness for MG by coming to work in shorts.

“It had been snowing on the Sunday night when I came in on the first Monday in shorts. Apart from that it’s been fine. I’ve been that busy I haven’t noticed the cold.”

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The ‘MAIL’ first featured Connor’s struggle with MG eight years ago and it’s wonderful to see the progress he’s made.

His dad said: “They believe he may be in remission. His MG is very well managed and he lives a relatively normal life for an 18 year old boy. He has a strong interest in computers, photography, media studies, live gaming and now that he’s passed his driving test... cars!”

Connor is in his final year studying his A levels at St Patrick’s Grammar School in Armagh. He turned 18 on December 5, the same day Dan started with the wearing of shorts.

Anyone wishing to support Dan can donate via his Just-Giving Page www.justgiving.com/danmcalinden. Or by post to Dan McAlinden Appeal, MGA, 4 Braemar Park, Bangor, BT20 5HZ.

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Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is an auto-immune disease, which causes a breakdown between nerves and muscles, and results in loss of effectiveness in the muscles of the arms, legs and eyes. The name Myasthenia Gravis comes from the Greek and Latin words for ‘grave muscular weakness’.

Activities taken for granted by most of us become difficult or even impossible at times for myasthenics even simple things like eating food, lifting arms, speaking to friends or laughing. Although there is no known cure at present, drugs can successfully control symptoms.

Jan Beaumont, MG Regional Organiser said “It is estimated that for every diagnosed sufferer of MG, there are at least two to three others whose condition is undetected. Raising awareness of MG is very important so that we can improve diagnosis, care for MG sufferers, and fund research into treatments and hopefully one day find a cure for this life altering condition.