Race Star Legend Neil Cunningham’s Legacy Continues

racing car

After a long battle with Motor Neuron Disease, the former race car driver Neil Cunningham died at the age of 52 in 2016. MND affects more men than women; this disease happens when motor neurons in both the spinal cord and brain stop functioning properly. Diagnosed in 2011, Mr. Cunningham focused first on his health and then became active in fundraising to help others combat this disease.

Symptoms Became Apparent

Neil Cunningham was a very successful British GT race car driver. He also performed stunts for the popular Top Gear television series. Neil started to see symptoms while working on Top Gear. As the disease progressed, he was no longer able to perform even the most basic activities. For a while, he tried to ignore the symptoms, but there came a day when he had to confront his fears. With the support of his family and friends, Neil visited a doctor.

Facing the Situation

When Neil was diagnosed with MND in 2011, he could not speak about his health. Then in 2013, Neil revealed his dismay at having a disease that had no cure. It was a very traumatizing period in his life, but Mr. Cunningham was able to quickly pick himself up and begin to talk about his health more openly in the hope of helping others.

Fund Raising


Neil Cunningham decided to use his celebrity to inform people about this horrible disease and to raise money to help others who were battling it. This professional racing star hosted several charity events that raised money for MND as well as other diseases. At one particular event, he was able to raise more than 160,000.00 Euros.


Neil Cunning initially setup Racing4MND as a fundraising website that accepted donations for MND research. His hope was that through funding, researchers would find a cure for this fatal disease.

Mr. Cunningham’s Legacy Lives on

Even though Neil Cunningham is no longer with us, his legacy continues. Websites have been established to encourage dohttp://www.heatonellistrust.com/nations for MND research. “Remembering Neil Cunningham” is a Justgiving web site created in 2016. Donations are made to Neil’s favorite MND Foundation, The Heaton Ellis Trust.


The only way we will find a cure for MND is thru research. And research requires a lot of money for paying salaries, establishing trials, and creating medications. Let’s hope that a cure for this horrible disease is found soon.


What is Current Research for Motor Neuron Disease?

Motor neuron disease is a condition that arises when specialized nerve cells (motor neurons) in both the spinal cord and brain stop functioning properly. In the United States, less than 20,000 cases are reported every year, while in the United Kingdom, 3 out of 100,000 individuals are diagnosed with it every year. This condition is chronic and has no cure. Newer treatments are being discovered, which can help people alleviate several symptoms.

Clinical Trials

The MND Association has stated that a lot of clinical trials have led to disappointing results, but even so, they have helped to pave the way for future trails. Researchers are making progress every day.

Innovative Research


Several researchers are conducting clinical trials in different parts of the globe to find more solutions to either alleviate this disease or combat it once and for all. Defective genes that could intervene in the development of motor neuron disease are currently being investigated. Researchers believe that stem cells are the master cells of the body and thus have the capability to divide and become any cell. What this means is that they might be utilized to create new motor neurons shortly.

MND Association’s DNA Bank Samples

At the moment, MND Association’s DNA Bank samples are being utilized to obtain more information on the genetic causes of motor neuron disease. In 2014, researchers received access to white blood cells to model this health matter. To this day, more than 3,000 individuals have contributed to the MND Associations DNA Bank in the United Kingdom, and it appears that this number keeps growing. Samples are being used to learn the way variations in the DNA may contribute to the development of motor neuron disease.

Research for Treatment

Even though there is no cure for MND, medications have been formulated to slow the progression of the disease by controlling the symptoms. One of the most common drugs that are prescribed by doctors is Riluzole.

GM604, which is developed by the American pharmaceutical company Genervon, has been used in clinical trials. Twelve people in total utilized it for over a 12-week period and obtained great results from doing so. In February of 2015, the results of this trial were presented to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which licenses drugs in the United States. To date, no decision has been made.

In 2013, the drug Nuedexta became available in the United Kingdom, to treat emotional depression associated with MND, as well as other neurological conditions. Unfortunately, in 2016, its marketing authorization was withdrawal from the EU by the request of Avanir Pharmaceutical Inc., who was the developer and of the drug.

Evolvement of Tests


Over the years, there have been some tests that make the diagnosis of motor neuron disease easier and faster, including:
transcranial magnetic stimulation,
magnetic resonance imaging study, and nerve tests.

The transcranial magnetic stimulation measures the activity of nerves that travel from the brain to one’s spinal cord. Electromyography consists of thin needles to measure the electrical activity of muscles. On the other hand, nerve tests consist of an electrical impulse that is applied via a small pad that is placed on the skin. The magnetic resonance imaging study utilizes radio waves and magnets to produce images of the inside of one’s body.

Research Continues

Studies continue on motor neuron disease by the MND Association, pharmaceutical companies, and other establishments. Only time will tell how far the medical field progresses in solving this health issue.

How Does Diet Affect Motor Neuron Disease?


good food

Motor neurons are important nerve cells that are responsible for voluntary muscle control. A motor neuron disease is a neurological disorder that severely impacts these cells. These severe conditions include ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, PLS (primary lateral sclerosis) and PMA (progressive muscular atrophy). Living with these diseases can be a physical and emotional struggle for the patient as well as those caring for them.

A diagnosis of MND can be devastating because there is no known cure. Recent studies have found that there is a link between diet and motor neuron diseases. Certain foods can make it easier to keep up nutrition levels and health and potentially slow down disease progression.

The Importance Of Food

Maintaining a healthy diet is necessary because without proper nutrition other health problems can occur. Extended muscular atrophy, as well as weakened immune systems, will contribute to the risk of infection or development of other diseases. Energy deficiency can cost a great deal to those suffering from motor neuron diseases. Without energy the body will shut down, making it defenseless thus decreasing longevity.


Limiting sugar is necessary for the MND patient. It is imperative to find a way to detox the body. Finding a good detox plan can be extremely helpful.




Nutrition and Motor Neuron Diseases


Eating and swallowing are impacted by the weakening of muscles caused by these conditions, so keeping up nutrition levels can be a challenge. Some changes can be made to the diet to help relieve this. Foods should be eaten in small portions frequently. It is also important to ensure texture is soft and easy to swallow. Fluid intake is essential to ensure the patient keeps hydrated, thus preventing discomfort. Often a liquid diet is beneficial in more advanced cases, so the patient can get what they need without the physical pains of eating.

New Research

A recent study funded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association found a connection between high-calorie foods and increased life expectancy. Using a high-fat formula, patients increased weight and appeared to live longer and showed a slower progression of the disease. The diet can be provided using tube feeding if the disease has already interfered with swallowing muscles.

While there is no cure for these diseases, it becomes necessary to take steps to slow the progression of the disease. Diet is a way to help the patient.

How the Car Racing Community Supports the MND Foundation

About MND

The Motor Neurons Disease (MND) is arguably one of the deadliest diseases and also responsible for a significant percentage of deaths in the world. This neurological condition attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Walking, eating and talking are affected by the disease eventually causing complete paralysis.

There is no cure for MND, and the onset of the disease leads people to require wheelchairs and eventually round the clock healthcare. The disease costs the patient a significant amount of money. However, only a handful of patients can afford the proper care to manage the disease.

Aussie Racing’s Relationship with the MND Foundation

Currently, the car racing community leads the efforts of supporting patients through MND donations. One of the most popular organizations that support MND is Aussie Racing Cars.

Aussie Racing Cars is a popular racing category where cars are built over motorcycle chassis.  The vehicles are called silhouette cars and raced by men and  women.

Jeff Watters, a driver from Melbourne, had a close friend who lost his life to MND. After seeing first hand how devastating the disease is, Jeff has dedicated his life to supporting MND victims and raising awareness about this disease. Jeff began his initiative in 2013 and with time has made MND awareness a huge part of Aussie racing.

Aussie Racing Cars makes MND their official charity. Through their support, families, and victims get to enjoy a firsthand experience of the track and behind the scenes of Aussie racing. This MND charity initiative has attracted several sponsors which include: Hertz Australia, Peddlers Suspension, Aughtersones Insurance Brokers among others.

Aussie 96 Car
Jeff Watters #96 MND Car, from google images

There is even a branded MND car. Number 96 Autosport Racing car was renamed the number 96 Cure for MND Racing Car. Jeff Waters drives this car and also provides it for fan pictures. The car provides a reminder of how important the MND foundation is.

The Aussie Racing MND campaign has given many patients access to expensive specialized treatment. Aussie racing is hugely popular thus making it the leading MND charity organization in the world.

MND Charity Virtual Races

Aussie Racing boosts its efforts to raise money by introducing fans to virtual races. These virtual races provide an opportunity for donators to show their support towards MND. The virtual race involves running or walking on a treadmill at a racetrack.

At the end of the event, a participant receives a sticker that shows support for the fight against MND. These virtual races are not only fun but also allow supporters of the movement and victims alike to come together, interact and comfort each other.


MND is a devastating disease that has no cure. For that reason, it is important that money is channeled to research to find a cure. And while we wait for that cure, money also has to go to patients to help them be as comfortable as possible.

Hats off to Aussie Racing for their help in raising money for MND.