A FAMILY have taken part in a three-mile walk along the shores of Loch Lomond as they mark 50 years of their Gran living with multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Stephen O'Keane, his wife Kara, and their two children, Aida, six and Joseph, three, took on the Wee Wander to raise almost £1000 for MS Society Scotland in honour of Stephen's mum, Maureen O'Keane.

Maureen, 75, who has secondary progressive MS (SPMS), uses a wheelchair full-time and has problems with her speech and cognition after she was diagnosed 50 years ago this year.

MS damages nerves in the body and makes it harder to do everyday things like walk, talk, eat and think, though everyone's symptoms and experiences are different. 

Glasgow Times: Stephen and Joseph O'KeaneStephen and Joseph O'Keane

The Wee Wander, which was part of Glasgow Kiltwalk fundraising event, took place on Sunday, April 24. 

While Stephen, who is from East Kilbride, has completed more physically demanding fundraising events for the charity in the past, this was his first time taking part in a fundraiser with his children. 

The 35-year-old, who is head of strategy for Business Banking at The Co-operative Bank and joint vice-chair of the MS Society’s Scotland Council, said: "It actually made it feel quite special, us collectively doing something for MS and for my mum.

"Now the children are getting a bit older I was keen for the whole family to get involved in some fundraising. 

"It's important for me that the children realise how lucky they are to have an amazing person like my mum in their lives and appreciate the obstacles she has overcome.

"It was less effort physically, apart from when Joseph needed a rest on my shoulders, but it gave me more time to reflect and appreciate the event.

"When I told mum we were going to be taking part in the Wee Wander as a family she was delighted but already worried about the kids.

"The kids did amazingly.

"Aida did it no bother, even running round some bits.

"Joseph did most of it but needed some time up on my shoulders with the hills."

Glasgow Times: Maureen O'Keane with Aida and JosephMaureen O'Keane with Aida and Joseph

He added: "The atmosphere on the day was great.

"It helped hugely that the weather was brilliant, it couldn't have been better.

"It was extremely well organised and the finishing line and village at the end were great.

"There was music and all the organisers made a fuss about the kids, which was lovely."

More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland and one of Stephen's main motivations for supporting MS Society Scotland is to raise awareness of the condition. 

He said: "Awareness is my primary driver just now.

"I have been guilty in the past of accepting some myths and misconceptions about MS, so I want to be able to raise awareness of the condition.

"I am sure the additional fundraising will help as well; with things getting back to normal after the pandemic, fundraising feels more important than ever."

Glasgow Times: Joseph, Stephen, Kara and Aida O'KeaneJoseph, Stephen, Kara and Aida O'Keane

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said: "I would like to say a massive thank you to Stephen, Kara, Aida and Joseph for completing the Glasgow Wee Wander and raising vital funds for MS Society Scotland.

"MS is relentless, painful, and disabling and money raised by events such as this one help us to make life better for people with MS through research, campaigning, and support.

"The Kiltwalks are a particularly effective way of fundraising thanks to the additional amount charities receive from The Hunter Foundation.

"There are three more Kiltwalks in Scotland this year, plus one virtual event, so I would urge anyone looking for their next fundraising challenge, or seeking a fun day out with their family, to consider taking part in one of these."

MS Awareness Week runs from Monday, April 25 to Sunday, May 1.

You can donate to Stephen's family's fundraiser HERE