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What have we done this year?
During the Rotary Club of Kiama’s AGM on Monday December the 3rd we took the opportunity to reflect on the club’s fundraising efforts throughout the year and the disbursement of those funds. The outgoing Treasurer, Trevor Phillis, led us through the key financials for the year to July 1, 2018.
The Rotary Club of Kiama’s major fundraising activities are the Antique Fair on 19-20 January in 2019, the Festival of Choirs in October, Auto Expo in November (a joint initiative with Gerringong Rotary) and an annual apple drive in May. Regular BBQs at the Kiama Seaside Market each month compliment the major events. Community support for all off these events is greatly valued and makes it possible for Rotary to support local and international programs.
A summary of how the funds raised in the 2017-2018 year were dispersed:
- $21,600 Local Youth Programs (mental health at Kiama High School, RYLA, RYPEN, Science Forum, Youth Centre and a literacy program for disadvantaged pre-schoolers)
- $11,000 Melanoma Research (ground breaking research into treatment of Melanoma)
- $8000 PNG Madang Project (supporting hospital and education for over 30 years)
- $4600 ROMAC (Rotary Oceania Medical for Children – providing lifesaving and dignity restoring surgery to children from the Pacific Region)
- $4000 Rotary Foundation (donations in recognition of guest speakers forwarded to Rotary’s global charity)
- $2000 Polio Plus (a global Rotary program to eradicate Polio)
- $2000 Shelterbox (providing life necessities to homeless victims of natural disasters and conflict)
- $1,500 Invictus Games
- $1,000 Kiama Dementia Friendly program
- $1000 Kiama Surf Club
- $1000 Kiama Pipe Band
- $1000 Bushfire Floods Drought Funds
- $1000 RAWCS (Rotary Australia World Community Service a registered Australian Charity funding and co-ordinating volunteers for Rotary projects)
- $500 BlueHaven Retirement Village
You can be confident your financial support for Rotary is effective. In January 2018, for the 10th consecutive year, The Rotary Foundation received four stars, the highest rating from Charity Navigator demonstrating both strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency.
In addition to the financial contributions Rotary Volunteers make a difference in the community through volunteer efforts on programs such as mental health first aid, free skin cancer screening, youth development programs, community service award and emergency services training.
Following the outstanding success of the Kiama Auto Expo the Rotary Clubs of Gerringong and Kiama came together for a joint meeting to hear from the PhD student jointly sponsored by the clubs.
Sheena Daignault presented to our meeting on her Rotary Health PhD Research into potential novel therapies for Melanoma.
Medical practice today can only treat Melanoma successfully if it is detected in the very early stages of development and the entire tumour can be excised. Melanoma remains the most dangerous skin cancer, and impacts more young Australians under 39 years of age than any other cancer.
Sheena shared with the us the fact that exposure to sun is the biggest risk factor, as around 90% of melanomas are UV induced. She also explained that serious skin damage occurs with only 4 minutes of sun exposure, and this could give rise to precursor Melanoma cells. The characteristics of Melanoma that make it particularly challenging to treat is the speed with which it spreads and the fact that it thrives in hostile environments with limited nutrients and oxygen. Like many cancers the biggest obstacle to treatment is by causing a mutation of the body’s own cells the immune system does not identify the cancer as a pathogen or foreign object and does not mount a full immune response.
Sheena’s ground-breaking research involves removing melanoma cells from the body and killing them with a drug that is known to kill Melanoma cells. By killing the cells and exposing internal compartments that the body doesn’t recognise, she hopes to trick the immune system into identifying the cells as foreign invaders so the immune system can respond. Importantly, this drug is already registered with the FDA approval in another cancer type.
When Sheena uses a mouse model to reintroduce the dead mouse Melanoma cells back into the mouse the immune system recognises them as a pathogen and works to arrack the living Melanoma. Research to date has shown promising results. Sheena expects to finish this research in the next 18 months.
Free Skin Cancer Screening Clinics
In the meantime, early detection is critical to saving lives particularly of young people. We continue on the local initiative of the Gerringong and Kiama Rotary clubs running free screening programs with the support of local volunteer practitioners. During the Auto Expo we screened 90 participants. Around 28% were referred for further investigation. A couple of the lesions were likely to be Melanomas and a handful of Basal Cell Carcinomas.
We are working with local SLSCs to run screenings in December and January but encourage you to take the opportunity for you and your loved ones to be screened by your GP on a regular basis.