Ready, Steady, Go
Fund-raising efforts by the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) yielded more than $100,000 for Australian researchers in 2012. These donations were generated by the Society's inaugural Charity Walk for Wittenoom Children in May1 and a golfing competition in October.2 This year the ADSA community aims to raise even more research dollars for projects targeting deadly asbestos diseases such as malignant pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Next week, the Society will embark on its 2nd annual walk for research and awareness.
All of us know that in English-speaking countries certain words have different connotations. This is certainly the case when we use the word walk to refer to the activity the ADSA is planning. In the UK, we take a walk in the park or a stroll by the seaside, both of which involve minimal exertion over short spans of time. What the Society means by walk is best understood within the framework of last year's 600+ km trek from the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie to Perth, the capital of Western Australia. This walk, which took place over five days and involved pairs of participants covering 10-20 km/day, raised $75,000.
On Sunday, May 12, ADSA volunteers will assemble in Dunsborough, before setting off the following morning for Bunbury, where a town meeting will be held concerning the ongoing asbestos health hazard. Similar meetings will take place in Harvey, Mandurah and Rockingham on the following evenings. Commenting on the purpose of the walk, ADSA President Robert Vojakovic said:
Because the killer asbestos was used by the construction industry and is present in many households, most people have been exposed to it without even knowing it; that is why the death toll continues to grow in epidemic proportions It is essential that people understand what they need to do to reduce the risks to current and future generations. During the walk, we will attempt to help with this monumental task. We are using the slogan 'Would you invite a killer into your home' which very accurately describes the terrible consequences of asbestos exposures.
Sixty-two year old Larry Graham, a former Member of the Australian Parliament, columnist and radio personality, was part of the 2012 ADSA team of walkers. Asked why he was coming back for more in 2013, he said:
The reason I am doing it again is simple - we are losing about one person every day in this state as a result of asbestos. As you know there is no cure for mesothelioma and there should be, you should not get a death sentence for just living in your home or going to work. There is huge competition for medical research dollars and asbestos diseases are not sexy. So for me to walk = funds for research; it's a no brainer.3
The distance from Dunsborough, on the southwest coast of Western Australia, to Perth is the same as from London to Hull; given the choice, I would prefer to leave my walking shoes in the closet and support this amazing venture by making a donation. I was able to do this in person when I was in Perth last month. Fortunately, through the wonders of modern technology you can do so through an online link on the ADSA website.4 Larry Graham and the ADSA are doing the hard work, the least we can do is make a few clicks and support them.
May 7, 2013
1 Kazan-Allen. Walk for Wittenoom Children. May, 2012.
2 Kazan-Allen. Fund-raising on the Golf Course. October 16, 2012.