SISTERS who watched their father fade from them as multiple sclerosis ravaged his body are preparing to take a massive leap of faith to raise funds to beat the disease.
Laura Ward and Kirsten Fraser, of Elgin, will carry out 10,000ft tandem skydives next month – two-and-a-half years after their dad, Grant Fraser, died.
For student Laura (28) it will be a particularly tough challenge as she has a crippling fear of heights.
Her little sister Kirsten (18) said she wants to do something she knows would make her dad proud.
Mr Fraser, a former serviceman, had led a normal, healthy and physically active life up until he was given the shattering diagnosis.
“He found out when I was 15 and he passed away when I was 25. It can be a horrible disease,” said Laura, a trainee hairdresser at Moray College UHI.
“He died in February 2010. We knew about a week before he passed away because his body used to shut down when he got an infection but this time we knew he wasn’t going to pick up. It sounds cruel, but at least he is not suffering anymore because he was in a bad way.”
Money the sisters raise will go to the MS Society Scotland, a charity dedicated to beating the disease.
“They were fantastic throughout,” said Laura, “and they helped dad get the equipment he needed and the support required. They supported us as the family as well. They are there for you to talk to and I remember when we found out we got that book, ‘My Dad Has MS’. It really helped.”
Mr Fraser himself carried out a skydive before he was diagnosed and so the sisters thought it was a fitting tribute.
“He had been a big, active man,” said Laura, “but before he passed away, he couldn’t really speak. He couldn’t do anything himself.”
Kirsten grew up helping to look after her dad. “When I was about 12, me and my granny had to care for him. We had to pick him up, feed him, make sure he was okay,” she said. “He was a very courageous, strong and amazing man and I’d like to do something that I know he would be proud of me for doing.”
Towards the end, Laura said the real cruelty of the disease began to make itself known.
“It is horrible. If you imagine the nerve-endings are like the plastic coating on a wire. That becomes wrecked so the wires are sending the signals all wrong, if that makes sense.
“But because the person is still there, they know what is going on so it can be heartbreaking. It was so difficult to watch; from someone who was so active and independent, he became someone that we had to do everything for,” she said.
Wanting to help, the sisters arranged the charity fundraiser, which will take place in Perth, on August 25.
“It would mean everything to me knowing those affected will get help and the treatment they need,” said Kirsten.
Visit www.justgiving.com/kirsten-fraseror www.justgiving.com/laura-ward9 to donate to the sisters’ fundraising cause. Donations can also be given at Elgin’s Adolfo’s chip shop, where Kirsten works, or CSS Newsagents towards the west end of Elgin High Street.