'A long, cruel battle': Death of dad, husband, drives family
WATCHING her once-active husband stuck in a wheelchair, unable to play sport with his children or in the end, even eat or dress himself, was the hardest part for Kelly Rowlinson.
Her husband Mark had been a successful businessman who worked with his hands.
A father of three, he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2006.
The couple had two young children at the time.
One of his greatest fears was that his youngest child wouldn't remember him.
What followed was a "very long, cruel battle" which lasted 7.5 years.
Kelly, now 47, was raising their three children, Georgia, Finn and Mia.
She said it was tough knowing her children wouldn't have extensive memories of their dad.
Mark went into a wheelchair in 2010, in his fifth year with the disease which leaves the neurones controlling muscles enabling movement, speech, breath and swallowing to degenerate and die.
"It's very, very difficult to talk and be understood," Kelly said.
"You lose the ability to use muscles."
About two years before he died Mark lost the ability to dress himself and had to be fed and showered and taken to the toilet.
In his final 12 months he had to be fed through a tube.
"Not being able to play with his kids (was tough)," Kelly said.
"They were all into sport."
It's the pain of her family's loss that now drives Kelly and her children to do whatever they can to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease research.
She said researchers were confident they'd find a cure, but the challenge was trying to establish long-term studies, as patients often didn't live longer than 27 months after diagnosis.
Her family competed in the Gold Coast Marathon to raise funds, and her son's Kawana Force under-14 division two soccer team, which she managed, would all be involved in the club's major fundraiser this weekend.
"Any opportunity we can we get in to do that fundraising," Kelly said.
She hoped for a great turnout at Kawana's home ground at Milieu Pl, Birtinya this Saturday afternoon, for the Fight MND fundraising event.
Kawana plays Woombye, with reserve grade starting at 4pm and the McDonald's Premier Men's clash kicking off at 6pm.
Kelly and her family would be among those raising money, selling beanies and seeking donations, while the bar and canteen would be open on the night as well.