31/03/2011 - 00:00

A mountain that needs climbing

31/03/2011 - 00:00

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THERE was plenty of support at last week’s launch of Telethon Adventurers, with Seven Media Group chairman Kerry Stokes and Telethon Institute director Fiona Stanley speaking alongside founder Rick Parish.

A mountain that needs climbing

THERE was plenty of support at last week’s launch of Telethon Adventurers, with Seven Media Group chairman Kerry Stokes and Telethon Institute director Fiona Stanley speaking alongside founder Rick Parish.

The members of the adventure-seeking fundraising group called themselves ‘The Adventurers’ last year when they climbed France’s Mont Blanc, raising close to $1 million to buy a specific cancer research machine for the Telethon Institute.

Mr Parish’s actions were fuelled by the diagnosis of his son Elliot with a brain tumour and, following Elliot’s passing in February, that determination has grown to the point where he says he is “waging war on cancer” with the help of Ms Stanley and the backing of Mr Stokes.

“When you have a child diagnosed with cancer, your world and your family changes forever, and so it was for our family. Our youngest child Elliot had a cancer, a brain tumour with metastatic spread,” Mr Parish said.

“His diagnosis at the time was not good, he was given less than a 30 per cent chance of surviving. This is 2011. Kids are being diagnosed with brain tumours and they are being given less than a 30 per cent chance of survival. In my mind and where I come from that isn’t good enough, so we are going to change it.”

The Telethon Adventurers aim to raise $2 million this year and a total of $20 million over the next five years. Telethon will contribute $500,000 by matching the first $500,000 raised by the group dollar for dollar.

The money will go towards enticing the world’s best and most progressive research staff to Telethon Institute, and buying the first-class equipment required to attract them.

At the launch, Professor Stanley was quick to point out that although the institute was keen to be ahead of the cancer research pack, collaboration between international research institutes was imperative to achieving the common goal of a cure.

“We collaborate all over the world. The only way you can do research in cancer in a place like Perth is to be part of a huge international network,” she said.

Professor Stanley added that the Telethon Adventurers would be funding a global childhood cancer symposium in Perth for the world’s best researchers, in order to further that collaboration.

“It will put us on the map, it will mean we can recruit more bright young people into this institute,” she said.

Mr Stokes agreed, saying: “At the end of the day someone is going to be successful, and there is every chance that success will come from this institution or the one across the street or another one in this state.”

For Mr Stokes, it was clear that his Seven Media Group’s connection to Telethon wasn’t the only reason he decided to speak at the event.

After reading Mr Parish’s story last year, Mr Stokes was moved to not only help the cause, but to attract someone with Mr Parish’s passion to Telethon.

“I was really impressed, I rang Richard Court (chairman of Telethon) and I said, ‘this guy is really committed. If we could actually pull this new feeling into part of the enthusiasm for Telethon, that would be a pretty good thing’,” he said.

“We share the same objective of wanting to cure cancer.

“Rick’s passion brought a whole new dimension to the thought of fundraising. With his team and the Telethon adventurers we hope to bring a whole new level of enthusiasm to Telethon, to the people of Western Australia and to Rick and his team to give them the infusion of enthusiasm of knowing they have the support for their work.

“I don’t know that we will find a cure for cancer, but it is certainly right that we wage a war against it.”

On that note, Professor Stanley had a different viewpoint.

“I disagree with Kerry; I think we are going to solve this, but it is not just ‘we’. We are going to be a part of a huge international jigsaw of research that is going to knock this on the head,” she said.

“By doing research we will find out why these things happen and how we can stop them.”

 

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