Charlie Bird offers “a hand of friendship to help others” on Pietas Darkness into Light Walk.

A year after his first symptoms of motor neuron disease, Charlie Bird says he faces a “lottery” about how long he has left to live.

he dubbed it the “1,000-day disease” because most people die within 1,000 days of their first symptoms, and called the “mental torments” the most difficult part of his journey.

“I can’t explain to people what condition I’m in,” he said. “Even though I’m physically fit, it’s the agony inside. Every morning when I wake up, the motor neuron is there.”

The former RTÉ journalist spoke as he led more than 2,000 people along the Bray seafront as part of this year’s ‘Darkness into Light’ walk in aid of Pieta, the charity that helps people contemplating suicide and self-harm.

More than 120,000 people took part in candlelight walks across the country from 4am yesterday morning.

Denise Cronin, chief financial officer at Pieta, said demand for the charity’s services has increased by 20 percent. She attributed this to the pandemic and the impact it is having on people’s mental health.

Amidst the walkers, Charlie spoke about the importance of being open with others when going through a difficult time.

As people chatted around him, he described how difficult it was for him not to be able to take part in impromptu conversations. Many passersby patted him on the back or hugged him, and a steady stream thanked him for what he had done through his fundraiser.

As the sun rose, Charlie went to the sea to throw a ball for his dog, Tiger.

“He’s keeping me alive,” he said, nodding toward the cockatoo.

When asked if he was scared, Charlie said, “I can’t help it. I just want to extend the hand of friendship right now to help other people in a dark place.”

Pieta offers 24-hour support on the toll-free number 1800 247 247. Charlie Bird offers “a hand of friendship to help others” on Pietas Darkness into Light Walk.

Fry Electronics Team

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