Philanthropy from the Heart

25 May 2015

Philanthropy has started young for a group of sixth grade students on Brisbane’s north, who have raised over $1200 for melanoma research at The University of Queensland.

Sophee O’Dea, Audrey Power, Emily Martin-Southby, Evie Rutkin and Grace Wishart from the Sacred Heart School in Sandgate recently hosted the second annual MAD (Melanoma Awareness Day) Hat Day at their school, raising $904.05 for Professor Ian Frazer’s skin cancer vaccine research.

The team tripled their fund raising efforts from the previous year by selling special lunch packs, in addition to the gold coin donation required to participate in MAD Hat Day where students make and wear crazy, yet sun safe, hats.

“The best part of our MAD Hat Day is seeing everyone’s creative hats,” said Sophee.

“A lot of kids really put a lot of effort into making their hats. One boy even had an entire car racing track on his head!”

Prizes were given to the most creative, crazy and sun safe hats.

“We gave a prize to the best boy’s hat and best girl’s hat, but I couldn’t decide which one I liked the most,” said Evie.

Skin cancer has affected two of the four girls’ families.

“Raising money for melanoma research was mostly Sophee’s idea,” said Evie.

“Her dad had melanoma, but my grandad also did, and he died from it before I got to meet him.”

The girls hope that research will ultimately result in a vaccine, and even a cure for melanoma.

“My dad got stage three melanoma when I was only six months old, then he got it a second time,” said Sophee.

“I really hope a vaccine or a cure can be invented so that people don’t have to go through what my dad went through, and so that more lives can be saved.”

The girls’ altruism was recognised at the UQ Celebration of Giving event in April, where the girls met Professor Ian Frazer.

“Professor Frazer talked about our MAD Hat Day with us, and thanked us for our donations,” said Sophee.

“He also told us about the European Inventor Award he has been nominated for and asked if we had gone on one of the event tours.”

Celebration of Giving guests were treated to tours of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, the Queensland Brain Institute and the Global Change Institute.

“I loved the tour we went on around the Institute for Molecular Bioscience,” said Sophee.

“I thought it was really interesting, and I definitely learned something new.”

Whilst the four original organisers of Sacred Heart School’s MAD Hat Day will be off to high school next year, the school will continue the tradition, making it a part of the school’s annual fundraising calendar.