This year’s Denim Dinner, which raised an incredible $190,0000, was special not just because it was the 25th Anniversary of Jeans for Genes, but because it acknowledged those who make our work possible.
At this year’s event, held at The Star last month, a series of special awards were handed out, including Corporate Partner of the Year, which went to Stanford Brown. They have shown incredible support for Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI). Philanthropic Supporter of the Year went to long-term supporter Len Ainsworth.
The Lifetime of Service Award went to John Bevins.
Known as the “creator’’ of Jeans for Genes – Mr Bevins spoke at the Denim Dinner and revealed how the unique fundraising day began.
“Twenty-five years ago, the late Professor Peter Rowe had a problem,’’ Mr Bevins said. “He’d moved the Children's Medical Research Institute from Camperdown, where it had been started by Sir Lorimer Dods, into shiny new laboratories at Westmead. But some of the laboratories were starkly empty rooms. Professor Rowe needed to raise $1 million urgently so he could fill these empty labs with more scientists and more equipment.’’
They decided to hold a brainstorm session with the scientists and everyone was asked to pay to enter the meeting.
“When everyone had forked out and was sitting down a colleague said, ‘we’re here to raise a million dollars.’ Then he added, ‘but we don't have to anymore. We now only have to raise $999,958!’ He held up a little bag of coins. It reminded all of us that to fund-raise you have to ask for money.’’
Jeans for Genes was born that day.
“I was delighted to hear yesterday from CMRI’s Head of Fundraising, Andrew Kelly, that all the money collected on Jeans for Genes Day
still is collected only by volunteers… and that the scientists still turn up 25 years later on railways stations selling badges.
“Indeed, CMRI is almost empty for all the staff that volunteer on Jeans for Genes Day.’’
Mr Bevins urged everyone at the Denim Dinner to continue to support CMRI.
“Please remember that CMRI is fiercely independent. It’s not an entity whose destiny is subject to the whims of political masters for whom science can—as we know—go in and out of fashion.
“Please remember that we are giving money to an independent, visionary institute that stands securely on its own two feet, that can go where its vision takes it, and that can never be brought to its knees… unless we stop funding it.’’