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School pupils and staff ready to put in miles for Balfron teacher's MS fundraiser

School pupils and staff ready to put in miles for Balfron teacher's MS fundraiser

Pupils at Balfron High are getting ready to clock up the miles to help a much-loved teacher pay for specialist MS treatment.

Jennifer MacKay, who works as a pupil support teacher at the school, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this year after noticing issues with her movement since 2017.

After looking into various options, Jennifer is looking to raise £50,000 to pursue haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) treatment in Mexico, aiming to slow down the progress of the condition.

A fundraiser launched by sisters Ally and Elaine has already smashed through the £46k mark - and now pupils at the school are aiming to do their bit with their ‘Miles to Mexico’ challenge.

The challenge, which began on Monday and goes on until November 26, will see pupils, staff and others in the community aiming to cover the 5,288 miles between Balfron and Mexico by whatever means they wish.

PE teacher at the school, Fiona Fisher, is one of those behind the fundraiser and says more than a hundred pupils have already committed to taking part.

Fiona told the Observer: “A lot of the staff just felt that we had to do something because Jenny is a well-loved member of staff and a good friend.

“We felt really passionate about doing something to help and if it helps to pull the school community together, then that’s even better.

School pupils and staff ready to put in miles for Balfron teacher's MS fundraiser

“People can chip away at their miles when they can, whether that’s during lunchtime, after school or even using active travel coming to school to get their miles in.

“Jenny has really strong relationships with the kids in her role as a pupil support teacher and that empathy and understanding that she has, it’s important that we show that for her.”

On top of the school community, local groups have also committed to getting involved in racking up the mammoth distance for the cause - including Balfron Wild Swimming Mums.

Fiona said: “Some members of staff and pupils are looking to do a 100 miles, some are looking to do ten miles but every bit helps us up to the 5,288 total.

“We’re hoping people will get on social media and share some pictures and posts about their journeys, as well as logging their distance.”

The HSCT treatment is an intensive chemotherapy-based procedure which stops the damage caused by MS by wiping out and regrowing the patient’s immune system using stem cells.

The treatment is offered in the UK, but the criteria for treatment on the NHS is strict and Jennifer will not be offered the treatment on these shores, which necessitates the need to travel abroad to Mexico.

The original fundraiser - which is available at gofundme.com/f/jennys-hsct-journey - has raised more than £46,000 at time of going to press. You can support the ‘Miles to Mexico’ effort on their fundraising page at gofundme.com/f/milestomexico.