FRIENDS who have lost loved ones to Motor Neurone Disease are uniting to raise awareness of the condition.

Zowie Lever, who has the progressive and terminal disease, and her friend Nicola Rainford-Copple, have organised a family fundraiser in Radcliffe in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

The charity supported Nicola when she lost her mum Lynn Catherine Rainford to MND in December 2010.

In 2007, the MNDA was also there for Zowie and her family, whose father Stephen James Coleman died of the condition in December 2007.

MND is a group of diseases that affect the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing the progressive weakness of many of the muscles in the body.

Ms Lever, aged 37 of Clyde Road, said: "Every day is a struggle for me. I try my hardest to stay strong and be the happy-go-lucky person I have always been. I have dark and dim days where I think why me, why did I have to have it, but your life is already mapped out for you when you're born.

"I'm just so lucky I have been able to do the things I have done and go to the places I've been with some amazing people.

"I am from a large family, my grandma being the eldest of 21 siblings, so I do have a lot of support. I have some very close friends who are amazing and I wouldn't be without any of them."

Ms Lever began with the symptoms of MND more than 10 years ago while working as a nurse at Prestwich Hospital.

She said: "My illness became apparent when I had a fall in the middle of the road.

"I went for tests for MND and was faced with a death sentence.

"Shortly after, myself and my husband Ryan decided to try for a family but after every failed attempt we tried for IVF treatment. This also failed and I was told my reproductive system was not strong enough for IVF and there was nothing that could be done."

MND can affect how people walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe. Sometimes, a person's thoughts and behaviour are also impacted. However, the disease affects every person differently.

Ms Lever's father was also diagnosed with the disease. A lifelong condition with no cure, it took his life when he was 47 years old.

Ms Lever said: "My dad worked for Bury Council as a flagger and kerber and eventually started with a limp at the early stages of MND which resulted in a fall and breaking his foot. He never regained the strength to walk again.

"His mother also had the terminal illness."

Ms Lever has teamed up with friend Ms Rainford-Copple to host an event at The Unicorn pub this weekend to raise awareness of the disease and to create a platform for people to find out more about it.

Ms Rainford-Copple's mother was diagnosed in 2007 after falling from a bike and damaging her left ankle, resulting in foot drop. The former manager at Elmhurst care home, Whitefield, died in December 2010, two days after her 55th birthday.

A person's lifetime risk of developing MND is about one in 300. There is no cure.

At the event this Saturday (August 11), dozens of items will be auctioned off to raise money for MNDA, including a pair of Amir Khan's signed boxing gloves.

A barbecue, bouncy castle, raffles, entertainer, gunge the landlord and facepainting have also been lined up, between 12 noon and 6pm.