Using social media to establish their presence, the MND meerkats have been raising awareness of MND research. From the labs of Sheffield to the shores of Perth, they’ve covered huge distances in their awareness raising mission. Here Gino, Mo and Oz write about their recent activities:
Gino D’Amino was named by staff at the MND Association prior to the 24th International Symposium on ALS/MND, which was being held in Milan, Italy. He was also lucky enough to get his outfit designed too!
In Milan, Gino was a huge success. After catching up with Mo LeCule during a coffee break he then went on to help sell 100 meerkats – raising 500 Euros for the Association!
After the symposium, Gino visited a number of our funded-researchers during the European Network for a Cure of ALS (ENCALS) meeting in May 2014. As well as being present at these international research events he has also helped members of our Biomedical Research Advisory Panel (BRAP) decide on which new research projects the Association should fund.
However, Gino hasn’t stopped there. He has also trekked with one of our staff member’s to the Arctic Circle and back earlier in 2014 in the ‘MND Arctic Scrap Van Challenge’, raising awareness of MND along the way!
Be it giving a talk about the Association to students in the UK, or raising awareness abroad, Gino’s MND awareness raising adventures are just beginning!
– Dr Samantha Price, MND Association, UK (on behalf of Gino)
Mo LeCule is a lab coat wearing and awareness raising MND research mascot based at the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN). Since his launch in May 2013 Mo has been an incredibly busy meerkat. His first outing was at the national conference for science communication in London, May 2013, which saw him networking with over 300 science communicators. He went on to take a starring role in the closing session. By popular demand dedicated Twitter and Facebook social media accounts soon followed.
On an everyday basis Mo is based within the SITraN laboratories observing and tweeting about the latest research. He has also attended many local and international conferences on a range of topics, with a focus on MND research, tweeting the highlights to his hundreds of followers. For the European conference on MND hosted in Sheffield in June 2013, Mo even made an appearance at BBC radio Sheffield to promote the event.
His MND awareness mission has seen Mo meet with some very important figures, including the Duke of Devonshire at his Chatsworth House estate to obtain signatures for the MND charter campaign.
On his latest adventure Mo captained a team of over 30 “rebel” runners (known as the streaking meerkats) to take part in the Sheffield Half Marathon. Mo and his cheeky cousin from down-under, Oz LeCule, streaked the line of the famously water starved race and, with the team, raised over £7000 for the association and MND research.
So what is next for Mo? More research, more awareness, conference updates, an appearance at the upcoming SITraN open day and there are rumours of a ‘calendar girls’ style photo shoot for 2015. Watch (and tweet) this space….
– Dr Emily Goodall, SITraN, UK (on behalf of Mo)
Oz is the cork hat wearing meerkat from Western Australia who is raising awareness of MND down under.
In Australia, Oz enjoys the laid back Aussie way of life and when he is not raising awareness of MND can be found at the beach, enjoying a BBQ, boating or jogging by the Swan River.
Feeling like he was ready for a challenge, Oz’s occasional casual jog turned a bit more serious when he was inspired to run the 2013 Perth City to Surf in aid of MND. Oz trained in rain and 30 degree heat and completed the 12km course form Perth city to the Beach in a personal best time for that distance. Oz raised over £500 for MND charities. To really get noticed and raise more awareness, he even streaked across the finish line!
When cousin Mo decided to create a team and take on the Sheffield half marathon in aid of MND, Oz knew he had to step up, join the team, travel to the UK and take part. A great day was had by all, and Oz and Mo completed the distance together.
Oz continues to raise awareness of MND wherever he goes, and being the globetrotting meerkat that he is, has been snapped in Bali and Dubai sporting his MND t-shirt and cork hat.
– Helen Goodall, Australia (on behalf of Oz)