'I want to see my kids grow up': Farmer's plea for €76k to fund MS treatment
A Co Antrim father-of-five with Multiple Sclerosis is trying to raise £65,000 to undergo stem cell treatment in Mexico, which he hopes will allow him to see his children grow up.
Glenariff farmer John McNaughton, who suffers from the secondary progressive form of the disease, was diagnosed six years ago at the age of just 37.
Now mostly wheelchair-bound, John has gone from being an active hurling player to having to give up his herd of cattle while assuming an "overseeing" role on the family farm.
His eldest son Shea (13) helps out with the practical aspects of managing the farm's sheep, assisted by his siblings Clodagh (11) Eoin (8) and Ruairi (6).
His youngest child, Shannon, is just three-years-old, and John has only been able to carry her once since she was born, due to his illness.
Speaking during MS Week, John (43), told the Belfast Telegraph that while his life has totally changed since his diagnosis he is "staying positive" for his kids and his wife Patricia, who is now his full-time carer.
"I was diagnosed in May 2011 but my symptoms appeared three years before that when I was 34", he recalled. "My balance wasn't as good and I was tripping often, but I had been playing hurling and refereeing and I just put it down to getting older. Since my diagnosis, it has been quite a downhill slide, which can make you feel downhearted but I'm lucky as I'm mentally strong because of the children and I am staying positive for them. I'm very grateful it's me and not any of the children who are sick."
Since John's illness was diagnosed, his young family have pulled together to continue to run the farm.