Sell-out success a big boost for Tony Hopper's fightback fund

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Kindhearted Cumbrians showed their support for Tony Hopper's fightback fund and the vital charity it's raising money for at a sell-out event.

The fundraiser at the University of Cumbria's Fusehill Street Campus in Carlisle had raised more than £2,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association before a single person walked through the door.

And that total was on track to steadily rise as 120 people attending dug deep to buy tickets for a major raffle with 55 prizes on offer.

Emily McCausland (CORR) organised the event along with Louise Hogg, Melanie Glencross and Vicki Lawson, who are all on the same nursing course at the university as Tony's wife, Sue.

"It's absolutely amazing. It's a complete sell out. We're really, really impressed.

"People bought raffle tickets from all over Cumbria. I think it was £2,020 before people came in and the bucket is nearly full again."

There has been an fantastic response since former Carlisle United midfielder Tony went public with his own motor neurone disease diagnosis and the fundraising appeal.

"It's just the Cumbrian community rallying round and it's amazing," said Emily, 27.

"We're quite rural and healthcare tends to take a bit of a back seat sometimes with funding and things but because of the awareness raised through the stuff we've been doing there's actually more happening with the MND Association.

"It's awful what's happening and everybody's felt that but it means people have rallied round. It means that people are raising awareness and we're getting a lot more funding than we were."

She said the event reflected the Hopper family and the way they have dealt with the devastating blow of the 40-year-old's diagnosis of bulbar-onset motor neurone disease.

"The response we have had has been suited to who it's about. It's for the MND association but this has stemmed from the acknowledgement that Tony has been diagnosed," said Emily.

Louise Hogg, co-organsier, added: "It's highlighting the future. It's such an awful disease and it is highlighting the work and research that needs to be done."

The News & Star is also backing the Hopper family in their bid to raise at least £10,000 for the charity, with our Fighting Back For Tony campaign.

Tony was among those at the event to thank those who are supporting his family's mission to help others.

It was part of a busy few days for the campaign, with fans at another of Tony's former clubs, Workington Reds, turning out in force to raise funds when he was guest of honour for Saturday's game at Borough Park.

Eric Tiffin, 65, leader of the North and West Cumbria MND Group, who was diagnosed with MND in 2005, said of the university event: "This is fantastic. The support that Tony and the association has received since it got out is absolutely outstanding."

Money raised before the event even got underway could fund MRI scans for five study participants, helping researchers better understand the disease. Twice that amount would fund a person with MND to participate in a clinical trial for a year and £3,500 buys a Lightwriter, to ensure someone with MND can continue to communicate with their loved ones.

Support grants, young person's grants, quality of life grants and carers grants are also available to those affected. Meanwhile funding will also go towards specialist MND nurses.

Damien Byrne, 38, of Cumwhinton Road, Carlisle, said: "Fantastic turnout for such an amazing cause. I hope they raise lots of money and MND can be recognised."

To donate to the Hoppers' fightback fund visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tony-Hopper

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