As the sun set over Sydney Harbour on Friday 1 September 2017, The Kids’ Cancer Project month-long bus tour came to an end and set Childhood Cancer Awareness Month off to a glittering start.
From the starting point in Townsville, Col Reynolds, the charity’s founder and former coach driver drove nearly 10,000kms down the east coast of Australia to share what he learned many years ago; the only way to truly help children with cancer is to invest in scientific research.
All along the route, Col asked Australians to sign a pledge to stand beside him as he stands up for kids with cancer. Kids like young Declan Kane who died in May this year from neuroblastoma.
Despite the heartbreak of losing their son, Simon and Kim Kane were eager to be part of the pledge campaign to bring awareness to the issue that more children die of cancer than any other disease in this country.
"I am determined more than ever now to help find a cure and better treatment options for all childhood cancers so that other kids have a better chance of survival,” said Simon Kane.
In Queensland Col met Tina and Levi Morse who shared the raw emotions of young Orlando’s cancer diagnosis for the first time.
Watch video: The Science Project 2017 Wrap Up.
Breaking out of their comfort zone, the family held a fundraising dinner and presented the charity with a cheque for $20,000. That was just the start of donations collected en route. During the four weeks the tour was on the road, Col met families, fun-runners, cyclists and community groups, all who give what they can in their own ways.
He also met some of the scientists funded by the charity including Dr Chris Fraser, Dr Andy Moore, Dr Bryan Day, Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole, and Professor Ricky Johnstone. He was even able to present a cheque to Associate Professor John Heath, Director of Paediatrics at Royal Hobart Hospital in a landmark funding commitment to help Tassie youngsters with cancer have access to clinical trials.
Through rural New South Wales, the ACT, country Victoria and Tasmania the bus tour made stops at schools that champion fundraising through the charity’s proprietary events; Cupcakes 4 a Cure, Write A Book In A Day and Pirate Day Friday.
And he danced.
As the bus pulled into The Children’s Hospital at Westmead on 1 September, Col greeted Dr Luciano Dalla Pozza, head of Oncology and Senior Staff Specialist with the signatures of nearly 10,000 Australians who had pledged their support for science through the month of August. The figure was just shy of the audacious target the team had set.
Following this, The Kids’ Cancer Project met friends, families, collaborators and partners at the Sydney Opera House for a candlelight vigil to honour all children affected by the disease.
As the afternoon turned to evening, the iconic sails began to glow gold, casting shimmering light on the harbor waters. It was the official end of the tour and launch of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Simon and Kim Kane sum up the objective of the month in one simple plea, “Please spread the word so another family doesn’t have to go through what we have.”
The Kids’ Cancer Project bus tour covered a lot of ground in four weeks. Here are some other fun facts from the tour.
- 9,800 kilometers travelled
- 8,400 pledges signed
- 1,643 new followers on Facebook
- 35 official events held
- 3 boat trips
- 12 giant cheques handed over
- 20 dances danced
- 17 scientists met
- $210,000 raised to support scientific research
- 2,500 pledge posts shared on social media
- 5 whales spotted
- 7 school visits
- 1,500 The Kids' Cancer Project balls given away
- 700 hugs given away for free