I was devastated, I thought I was going to die within months or a year. I kept thinking of my kids and would they cope without me’.

Imagine living your life without the ability to speak. Imagine not being able to say ‘I love you’ this Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, that is the fate met by most people living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Valerie O’Carroll (57) from Dublin, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in October 2019. She says ever since, she is in living in ‘denial’ but is trying to remain positive. It was Valerie’s husband Kieran, who noticed a unique change in his wife of 37 years, her voice. Her voice became quite ‘shaky’ roughly 18 months before her diagnosis.

On hearing of her diagnosis the mum of 3, says “I was devastated, I thought I was going to die within months or a year. I kept thinking of my kids and would they cope without me. The fact that my grand-children were so young would they remember me, my eldest grand – daughter Katie is nearly 14 and I really want to be here for her 21st.’

This February they are running our Sponsored Silence campaign #Voice4MND. All we ask is that you stay silent for a minimum of 30 minutes so you can experience what it would be like to lose your voice. Imagine one hour, imagine one day, imagine one week without your voice. We want you to give up your voice so you can experience what it is like for someone with MND.

All you have to do is pick a day and duration for your silence. Then maybe think if you had no voice for a day how would you communicate?

I suppose everyone has the same feelings not wanting to leave those you love, my job which I love and the people I work with. All of this and so much more. I’m still working and driving and I’m surrounded by very positive people in my job. I’m a very positive person and I intend to stay that way’ says Valerie. On giving advice to others, Valerie says ‘my advice to anyone who is diagnosed recently is to keep positive keep doing what you’ve always done for as long as you can. I truly believe there is a cure out there for this disease and together we’ll find it’.


To get involved in our Sponsored Silence all you have to do is email fundraising@imnda.ie and we will send you out your Silence Pack. Spread awareness by sharing your sponsored silence on social media by using #Voice4MND. Nominate friends and families to join you – get your school or work colleagues to take part. You can also donate to the campaign by texting MND to 50300 to donate €2 (100% of text goes to IMNDA across most network providers. Some providers apply VAT which means a minimum of €1.63 will go to IMNDA. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline 076 6805278).

Sometimes silence can speak volumes. Take on our challenge this February, lose your voice so that others can be heard.


Pictured is Valerie O’Carroll showing her support for the IMNDA February Sponsored Silence #Voice4MND. Image credit: Garrett White