Personnel from RAAF Base Wagga donned their best pirate attire on September 24 for Ava’s Pirate Day Challenge.

The event was held to raise funds for vital research to find kinder, more effective treatments for brain cancer in children. 

Last year, Sergeants Vanessa and Leevan Antalan, of RAAF Base Wagga, received news that their daughter, Ava, five, was diagnosed with an incurable form of childhood brain cancer - Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. 

Pirate Day is a national fundraising day encouraging children and the young at heart to dress like pirates to raise money for childhood brain cancer research through The Kids' Cancer Project and The Pirate Ship Foundation. 

Sergeant Vanessa Antalan said the event was a great success. 

“We wanted to use Ava’s Pirate Day Challenge to mobilise our friends across RAAF Base Wagga to help raise funds needed to find a future where no other parents are told there is nothing that can be done to help their child,” she said. 

Showcasing the spirit of the Defence community, the Air Movements team at RAAF Base Amberley caught wind of the fundraising initiative and organised a collection at the gate. 

Founder of The Kids’ Cancer Project Col Reynolds said he was delighted with the initiative. 

“It’s great to have a bit of fun to fundraise despite the serious nature of kids’ cancer,” Mr Reynolds said.

“Many people aren’t aware that the causes of childhood cancer are unknown, that there is no prevention and that research is the only way to improve treatments and survival.” 

Funds raised through 2020 Pirate Day will be directed specifically to a study led by Associate Professor Joshua McCarroll, Team Leader of the Gene Therapeutics and Drug Delivery group at Children’s Cancer Institute and the Australian Centre for Nano Medicine, UNSW. 

One of the major limitations for the effective treatment of brain cancer is the presence of the blood-brain barrier. This is the brain’s own protective measure that prevents the entry of therapeutic drugs into the brain. 

To make a donation or to learn more about childhood cancer research, visit www.thekidscancerproject.org.au