Hearts fan Stevie speaks out about motor neurone diagnosis as part of Hearts partnership with MND Scotland
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But in February this year, Stevie’s life changed forever after a diagnosis of motor neurone disease - which sees cells in the brain and nerves gradually stop working - stopped him in his tracks.
Now, a walk to his beloved Tynecastle is too far and boarding the supporters’ bus to away games is out of the question.
“Hearts has always been a huge part of my life. It’s really important to me and I used to love travelling to the games on the Livingston Hearts supporter’s bus, but I can’t do that now,” said Stevie, who lives in Mid Calder.
“The walk to the ground from the bus is just too far. Even going to home games, I have to get dropped off right at the entrance and am in the process of moving my season ticket seat, so I don’t have to walk as far.
“Right now, I am still able to get down to the pub on a Sunday to watch other TV games, something I’m still really glad I can do.”
Stevie first suspected something was wrong in 2020 when, during a round of golf which he regularly played, he felt a freezing cold sensation in his foot.
But nine months later, Stevie was given the shattering news that he was suffering from MND, which is known as the 1,000 day disease due to the average life expectancy of those diagnosed with the disease.
“There was a lot of testing involved and other things that had to be ruled out. At first I thought it might have been a trapped nerve but sadly it was more serious than that," he said.
Less than a year later, Stevie is having difficulty getting up and down stairs and requires a breathing machine at night.
And despite having lived an active life before his diagnosis, he has even found mowing the grass an impossible task.
“Being diagnosed with MND was devastating obviously,” said Stevie, who had to tell his wife Mary and their 37-year-old son Craig the news.
“It just floored us and the whole family went through a period of complete disbelief. Although I found it very difficult to tell my family and friends, the hardest part was definitely having to tell my dad.”
But Stevie’s favourite team is now helping him through his illness, after the club partnered with MND Scotland - the logo of which will be pride of place on the front of the Hearts home kit for the 2021/22 season.
“For my team to be involved in such a positive and direct way is tremendous,” said Stevie.
“I hope the money raised from the partnership will allow MND Scotland to continue helping people in my situation. The support and services they provided me with really helped to take a load off my family – they are magnificent.”
He added: “Hearts are my team. My wish is that no one else misses out on future games because of MND.”