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MND, NTI, and you: How we're fighting Motor Neurone Disease

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a cruel killer. There’s no cure, so when NTI’s former CEO Wayne Patterson contracted the disease in 2015, he reacted the same way he did to every problem confronting him in life: he took it on directly.

Sadly, the disease claimed Wayne in 2018, but it’d be wrong to call it a defeat. Wayne’s legacy at NTI is undeniable and, thanks to his work with the MND and Me Foundation, will continue to benefit MND patients and researchers.

“Wayne took over as CEO at a time when it was debatable whether NTI would survive,” says current CEO Tony Clark. “He inspired people to make the company work, and the values he put in place are still here.

“We trust our people to imagine, succeed and thrive, to ‘own it’ … so when Wayne got diagnosed, we knew he’d want to build something lasting, something to help.”

But just what is MND?

Big disease, little research

MND attacks the nerves that link the brain to the muscles – the motor neurones. They degenerate and die, causing muscles to weaken and eventually fail. These muscles include those that control movement, speech, swallowing and breathing. The mind and senses are usually unaffected.

The average life expectancy after diagnosis is 2–3 years. Every day in Australia, two people are diagnosed, and two die. Currently, around 2100 Australians have the disease.

After his diagnosis, Wayne linked up with Scott Sullivan, another MND sufferer, who founded the MND and Me Foundation to help fight the disease. It provides support to patients and funds to researchers. 

“Wayne wrote some children’s books, called Fat Rabbit, to raise money for MND and Me,” Tony says, and Wayne became an MND patron.

When Wayne passed away, the impact on NTI was immediate. Even though he’d left in 2007, he was still fondly remembered across the country – and the team at NTI wanted to continue his legacy. The team decided that rather than donating money, they would do something that reflected Wayne’s values.

“We decided we would get involved,” Tony says. “We could donate money, but we really wanted to engage the transport industry and the insurance industry.”

New truck, meet old truck

The team decided to restore a 1946 International Model K5. NTI team members Don Greer and Peeter Liiv got cracking. With our partners’ help for some of the more specialised work (panel beating, spray painting, etc.), they got the ‘Green Diamond’ back on the road. Raffled in 2017, with the winning ticket being drawn in Brisbane’s King George Square, the proceeds – more than $55,000 –went to MND and Me.

Green Diamond wasn’t a true concourse restoration, and while the team wanted to do another like it, they decided to take a more modern approach.

“That’s where we came up with the idea of turning new trucks into old trucks,” says Tony. More restorations followed, and the team wanted to make them suitable for day-to-day running. That’s why they’ve got modern engines and features such as power steering, air conditioning and anti-brake lock systems. 

‘Roxanne’, a 1946 Ford Jailbar, was the next project, and she raised more than $200,000 for the cause after being raffled at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show. ‘Jolene’, another ’46 Jailbar, is underway and raffle tickets are available online NOW. 

It’s important to note that the team couldn’t have got the trucks on the road without contributions from our partners, none of whom hesitated to lend a hand.

“They’ve been very generous with their time,” Tony says. “Some of it’s donated, some of it’s at cost price. Once you let them know what it’s for, you don’t have to knock on the door twice.”

Best of all, it’s supporting MND research in a way that’s consistent with Wayne’s – and NTI’s – values.

“It’s a way of raising MND awareness in the industry,” Tony says. “The more we can get out into the community, the better. The industry has been fantastic in supporting what we want to do and to achieve.”

Wayne would be proud.

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