It’s a startling fact – every 46 minutes, someone in Australia is diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or a related blood disorder. Just think about it. In the time it will take me to write this blog, another Australian will be diagnosed.
Since launching the World’s Greatest Shave (then known as Shave for a Cure) in 1998, over one million people have shaved or coloured their hair to raise in excess of $138 million for the Leukaemia Foundation.
Even though this is my eleventh Shave (last year I was unable to participate), I still feel a sense of pride to be able to assist the Foundation in its fight against blood cancers.
A special mention of thanks to everyone who sponsors a participant – every dollar helps – and last year, the Australian public donated $13.75m for the Shave!
What does the Leukaemia Foundation do with these funds? Let me share some facts and figures with you.
Over the past financial year,
- Over 40% of newly diagnosed Australians came to the Leukaemia Foundation for information, services and support.
- 39,310 hours of support were given by volunteer drivers to enable the Foundation’s Transport Service to operate.
- 985,004km were travelled by the volunteer drivers who made 22,270 trips to transport 2,893 people to and from hospital for blood cancer treatment.
- 6,224 people attended at least one of 456 education and support sessions to learn more about their disease and how to live well with their diagnosis.
- 15,860 nights of free accommodation were provided to 954 families from regional areas who were required to relocate closer to hospital during their treatment. (When a patient is diagnosed with blood cancer they usually go straight into treatment, resulting in the urgent need to find accommodation for them and family support).
Quite amazing when you think about it.
If you were involved in the Shave, and raised $160, you would provide a regional family with a free, fully furnished “home away from home” for two nights near a major hospital. $350 raised would provide 13 people with free emotional support to help overcome the initial shock of diagnosis. $600 would fund a PhD Student Blood Cancer Researcher for three weeks. $1200 would provide free transport to over 200 patients and carers to and from hospital for a month.
Last year, the Foundation invested over $3 million in research in to fighting blood cancers. More than 60 Australian research projects shared in grants awarded by the Leukaemia Foundation National Research Programme during 2012.
Does this research pay off? Most certainly.
In August 2011, thanks to funding from the Leukaemia Foundation, Australian researchers led an international collaboration in identifying the inherited gene defects that predispose some people to develop MDS and AML – a world leading breakthrough!
Over my past 10 Shaves, I have targeted special accommodation facilities and transport vehicles as part of my activities. With over $125,000 raised in this period, I must admit the waxed leg (yes just one leg!), the waxed armpits (yes both of them), and the many cold nights with a bald head were more than worth it.
That’s why I’m back again!
So while we enjoy the fun side of fundraising, participants know there is a serious work being done to help us all. If you get approached to donate to the World’s Greatest Shave, please do. If you want to participate – sign up at www.worldsgreatestshave.com.au
If you want to add to my target, please follow this link: http://my.leukaemiafoundation.org.au/michaellewis
Thanks again, and I look forward to posting the before and after shots.
*Banner photo courtesy of Flickr.