Walk raises funds and awareness of Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

Richmond resident Nicholas Deen-Cowell has faced some uphill battles in his life, and now his dad Geoff is taking a Bloody Long Walk to help him along the road.

Following a number of health problems growing up – an autoimmune blood disorder at 18 months, Coeliac disease at 12, extreme fatigue and stomach issues through school, and hearing loss after Year 12 – Nich suffered two stroke-like episodes over the last two years that led to vision loss, and was eventually diagnosed with MELAS, a Mitochondrial disease.

Mitochondria are found in the body’s cells and are responsible for producing energy, and are thus essential for our bodies to function properly.

People with Mitochondrial Disease, have limited energy resources available, and this shortage causes chronic medical issues in multiple organs.

A long road: Nich Deen-Cowell and his assistance dog in training, Radford. His dad Geoff has signed up for the Sydney North fundraising walk this coming weekend. Picture: Supplied.

A long road: Nich Deen-Cowell and his assistance dog in training, Radford. His dad Geoff has signed up for the Sydney North fundraising walk this coming weekend. Picture: Supplied.

“The last two years have had a devastating impact on our family,” dad Geoff Cowell said. 

“Nicholas has been forced to learn to cope with a multitude of issues that will impact him for the rest of his life.

“Undaunted, he continues to study postgraduate Law at Macquarie University and has achieved outstanding results.” 

Mum Tracy has also been diagnosed with the disease and his older brother, Alex, may yet develop it. There is no currently no cure, little to no understanding of it and very little research funding.

International Global Awareness Week for Mitochondrial disease is September 16 to 22, and the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation – or AMDF, the Mito Foundation – will host the annual Bloody Long Walk fundraising events in capital cities.

Mr Cowell, a former RAAF employee who now works for Qantas, has signed up for the Sydney North walk on September 9, raising a considerable sum of money from the carrier’s employees, as well as friends and relatives.

​Mr Cowell said most of the general public has never encountered Mito.

“The paucity of awareness means there is a lack of funding for treatment and research. Therefore, the AMDF is dedicated to helping find a cure, and each year stages two 35km Bloody Long Walks as its primary fundraising activity,” he said.

“I know that the walk will be an enormous challenge for me, but it will be nothing compared to the challenges that my courageous son confronts every day.”

To donate visit https/blw-sydney-north-2018.everydayhero.com/au/geoffrey​