Adventurers broaden front line

16/08/2016 - 13:45

Perth charity Telethon Adventurers has plans to expand nationally at the end of this year, following the success of recent fundraising and research programs. 

WORLD-CLASS: Cancer researcher Nick Gottardo (left) with Rick Parish at the Telethon Kids Institute. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Perth charity Telethon Adventurers has plans to expand nationally at the end of this year, following the success of recent fundraising and research programs.

The group was founded in 2010, and in the years since its members have climbed mountains, jumped out of planes, and traversed continents on motorbikes – all in the name of funding research into childhood cancer.

About 100 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in Western Australia, with 20 of those brain tumour cases – the second most common cancer in children after Leukaemia.

After the passing of son, Elliot, due to brain cancer, Telethon Adventurers co-founder Rick Parish saw the need to fund research, which he said had not progressed in decades.

“I’m doing this in Elliot’s honour; survival rates have not improved and this deadly disease is one of the least funded,” Mr Parish said.

“I just don’t understand why in this day and age we haven’t beaten this thing.”

In its first 12 months the group (then simply known as Adventurers) raised close to $1 million and was one of the three top-performing charities in the state.

Its growing profile enticed Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes to come on board as a partner, and the charity was renamed Telethon Adventurers in 2011.

Now, almost $9 million later and a finalist in this year’s Telstra Business Awards, the charity plans to expand nationally and open a ‘7 Adventurers’ office in Sydney at Christmas this year.

The charity’s success has also been driven by the progress of the Perth-based research programs it has supported, in particular one lab at the Telethon Institute in Subiaco, which has put WA on the front line of cancer research globally.

Telethon Kids Institute researcher Nick Gottardo was previously equipped with a microscope and petri dish, but due to funds raised the lab now boasts world-class technology, including a 3D molecular imaging machine.

In addition to accelerating Perth-based research, in 2013 Telethon Adventurers started and funded the first Global Symposium on Childhood Brain Tumours, which attracted 50 of the world’s leading researchers, oncologists and neurosurgeons to WA.

This was a first in a traditionally siloed industry that shared little unpublished data. The meeting now takes place every year.

“It’s like leading an army, that’s why I call it the war on childhood cancer,” Mr Parish said.

“And I’m not stopping until it stops.”

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