Finding cures for children's genetic diseases


Kangeroo Valley Committee turns 60


Their numbers may have dropped, but the eternal optimism and drive to make a difference is still strong in the Children’s Medical Research Institute Kangaroo Valley Fundraising Committee – which is celebrating its 60th year in December.

It was the first of the Institute’s committees to form in 1958, when the internationally-renowned paediatrician, Sir Lorimer Dods, asked the parents of his patients to fundraise for a new research facility that would focus on finding cures for children’s genetic diseases.

Dorothy Brown from Kangaroo Valley had met Sir Lorimer when her son was ill. She was the first to hear his call and rally the troops in her tiny regional NSW town.

Sixty years later, the CMRI Kangaroo Valley Committee secretary, Joan Bray, is still inspired by that pioneering spirit and isn’t about to let the legacy slip away.

“It creates a good feeling in the community,’’ Mrs Bray said.

The committee holds various events, including a Melbourne Cup Luncheon, Jeans for Genes Day activities, and has recently initiated a poetry competition for the local school.

“There is a lot of call on the public purse these days, and fundraising dollars can be hard to get. But no one ever turns us away,’’ Mrs Bray said.

“The local school has really embraced Jeans for Genes Day. We only have 79 kids, but they raised $100. It’s important for the children to understand, not all children are as lucky as they are. We want them to be conscious of that.

“My attitude is, if we can keep the profile there through small events we can put before the public, then our committee is alive and well and is working.

“It keeps the profile of CMRI, and our committee, alive.’’

There may be only six members left in the committee, but that is after Joan personally sought out three new members to double their size.

“I’d like to hand the committee over, one day, to the younger generation to keep it going. I won’t give up. I’ll keep going for another 10 years. We know the younger ones believe in what we’re doing and are happy to contribute when we are fundraising, but sometimes they are reluctant to join a committee, but I’d like to see people who are recently retired getting involved.

“I’m an optimist. I think we will continue strongly into the future.’’

In 2019, Children’s Medical Research Institute will mark 60 years of ground-breaking work to help the 1 in 20 children facing a birth defect or genetic disease.

None of CMRI’s internationally-acclaimed work would be possible without its fundraising groups. These Committees helped CMRI to save countless children’s lives, through introduction of vaccines, ground-breaking microsurgery techniques, and improved care for premature infants.

Today, they continue to provide vital support for our researchers, who are tackling complex problems, like cancer and other genetic diseases, and trying to find treatments and cures that do not yet exist.

If you would like to find out more about the Kangaroo Valley Committee contact Monique Cowper at CMRI on 8865 2803.