69-year-old Irish woman with Parkinson's to climb Mount Fuji with her son
A 69-year-old Irish woman with Parkinson's disease has decided to climb Mount Fuji with her son for charity.
Maura Ward was diagnosed with the chronic brain illness in 2013. An avid fan of travel and backpacking, the Co Down mother decided that she wasn't going to let Parkinson's slow her down.
So, she and her travel blogger son, Johnny, made plans to climb Japan's highest mountain - and give whatever money they raised to charity to help find a cure for the disease.
Writing on GoFundMe, Johnny says that Maura wasn't going to let Parkinson's define her.
"She flicked a switch in her mentality and instead decided to face it head-on," he sys.
"She didn't know how long her health would last, so instead of moping around the house, she decided to travel more, further, have more adventures!
"She sky-dived for Parkinson's charity for her 65th birthday, raising over $5,000. She traveled SOLO to Africa, to countries like Burkina Faso, Eritrea, she thought nothing of throwing her clothes in a backpack and taking an night train to Armenia."
Johnny says that he and Maura have had "so much fun" travelling the world together and that through "true selflessness," she gave him and his sister the best upbringing they could have asked for.
"My mum raised both my sister and I as a single parent in Northern Ireland, 10 years on welfare, preferring to be there for us and our education, money was tight, life was tough but our childhood was great, and more importantly, my mum taught us to believe in ourselves and that we can be anything we want to be."
Johnny says that his mother has shown him that Parkinson's "isn't a life sentence" and that she's ready for her new challenge - Mount Fuji.
"My mum may need a walking stick, and even a few pit stops, but I know she'll get to the top," he says. "She showed Parkinson's that it won't stop her, now you think Fuji can beat her? No chance! So let's do it mum."
"Now we would love to help other Parkinson's sufferer, let's find better medication, let us manage this disease better, and ultimately let's find a cure for this b*stard."
Johnny says that none of the money raised will go towards himself and Maura getting to Japan - they will pay for their trip and accommodation themselves.
Rather, all of the money will go towards finding a cure for Parkinson's and helping those who have the disease manage it better.
Johnny and Maura have raised just over £1,200 of their £8,000 goal.