A DOTING Scots dad is set to face one of “the world’s toughest rowing races” to raise money for research into his daughter’s rare, incurable disease.
Ross McKinney has set up a rowing team composed of him and four friends who will be taking on the gruelling 2021 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge next December.
The challenge will see the group – known as Five in a Row – combating 40 foot waves as they row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the West Indies.
The group hopes to raise as much money as possible for Reverse Rett, a research charity dedicated to changing the lives of Rett sufferers.
Ross’ nine-year-old daughter Eliza suffers from the rare and incurable genetic disorder.
The condition has left his daughter unable to walk and talk and Ross says it leaves her “trapped in a body that doesn’t do what she wants it to do.”
Speaking today, the 43-year-old from North Berwick, East Lothian said: “Rett shows no signs at birth, it wasn’t until Eliza was 18 months old that we noticed her development had started to regress.
“She started to talk a little bit and then completely stopped, then her development halted and she stopped completely.
“Doctors didn’t really know what was going on and thought she would eventually grow out of it, however she didn’t and we got a formal diagnosis of Rett Syndrome when she was three.
“We have had to adapt to it – it is quite grim.
“She can’t speak and now also suffers from epilepsy – she was placed into intensive care earlier this year after her lungs collapsed.
“Rett syndrome is grim – it’s made me more determined to do this for the charity and Eliza.
Ross continued: “We expect to be able to cover the distance in 5-6 weeks, we will be living on dry rations and will be able to use a heater on board which will warm up any food.
“The idea is that three rowers will work while two rest and then work in shift – however if we do hit bad weather we will all need to clamber into the small cabinets at the ends of the boat.
“Right now our thoughts are all positive – four of us are coastal rowers already. We all have a competitive spirit and know what we are doing.
“It’s a huge undertaking and will cost us around £110,000 to just make it to the starting line.”
The Five in a Row team consists of Ross, Duncan Hughes, Ian Baird, Clive Rooney and Fraser Potter.
They will work in shifts to cover the whopping 2,930 miles, three rowing while two rest.
The team of five expect to take 5-6 weeks to cover the vast crossing and will live on dry rations to help them along the way.
Rett syndrome halts brain development at a young age resulting in severe physical disability.
It is estimated to affect 1 in 12,000 girls born each year and is exceptionally rare in boys.
Donations to help the team can be made at their Gofundme page.