- 9 months ago
20 March 2023
It’s becoming a must-attend event for pharma companies and the many agencies that work with industry as hundreds of people ascended on Thredbo village last weekend for the annual pilgrimage up Australia’s highest mountain in aid of Rare Cancers Australia.
Now so popular that many people were turned away, more than 700 climbed Kosi on a warm but windy Saturday, raising more than $600,000 for the charity which supports people given a rare cancer diagnosis.
Industry was represented by 22 pharma company teams which raised in total $380,000*. The MSD Mountaineers led all the way to the finish line, claiming the Pharma Cup with a team fundraising record of $71,116, followed by the AstraZeneca AZCends on $51,165 and Team BMS on $49,128.
Per head, industry people raised on average $822 across its 462 participants, with the Gilead Kite Flyers having the highest per-capita input after team member Cathy Sertori raised $16,090 and took out the title of the highest individual fundraiser. Merck Healthcare gets a mention for raising $16,166 across its eight members, or more than $2,000 per person.
While most did a good job, a number of pharma teams had very small fundraising averages, with two teams of 13 members attending the event after raising on average $350 per person.
Another 14 corporate teams represented the agencies and companies that work with pharma, nicknamed the ‘adjuvant category’, with 88 people across these 14 groups. Prospection was the highest fundraiser and took home the Corporate Cup yet again with a total of $8,920.
With a total of $52,229 for the corporate sector, the average per head was $593, with one team of two raising $2,662 per person and another with eight just $28 per person, making their team photo on top of Kosi extraordinarily good marketing value, along with the industry connection opportunities provided by the event.
Most noteworthy were the 25 consumer and patient teams who attended under their own steam and raised a total of $162,423 across 201 people, giving this category an average per head fundraising of $808 – significantly more than the corporate sector and almost level with pharma.
The 31 family and friends that made up Dani’s Dynamos raised $29,137 while the Kosi Kings and Queens, a group of 27 Sydney University former students who said raising money for RCA “looked like a good way to spend a weekend”, contributed $20,616. The small family team of Red for Ned raised $12,205.
Unlike the large pharma and corporate contingents, community teams paid their own registration fees, transport, accommodation and meals, many also taking Friday off to travel to Thredbo.
The Kings and Queens told MedNews they booked a ski lodge near Jindabyne through AirBnB to accommodate them due to Thredbo being booked out and too expensive.
Speaking at the awards ceremony on Saturday evening, RCA’s Kate Vines paid homage to the community teams.
“These are teams that include patients who are on the path of a cancer diagnosis,” she said. “There are teams that include their family and friends, and also there are teams that walked today in honour of the memory of someone that they love dearly that cancer has taken way too soon.”
Two patients shared their stories, with Brian from Team McDonnell telling of the shock and fear of being diagnosed with a medullary thyroid cancer and “the genuine sense of isolation that accompanied my diagnosis”.
“I had no one to reach out to,” Brian said. “I made contact with [RCA] and ever since, I felt like they’ve wrapped their arms around me and helped me navigate through my cancer journey. Their support has been life changing… Thanks to Rare Cancers Australia, I’m no longer alone. “
Rob from Dani’s Dynamos told how his wife Danielle went to the doctor with backpain two years ago during Covid and was also also diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer. She died eight months later.
“The support we got from RCA was absolutely incredible,” he said. “Anything from chasing down drug deliveries that hadn’t turned up to talking to us about the importance of genomic testing – so many things where they offered support, often just being there when we didn’t know we needed that support.
“We had the opportunity to unload all of the stresses and strains and crap that comes from a bloody awful diagnosis that there’s very little can be done about.”
Rob challenged pharma to work harder to assist RCA, challenged patients and carers to tell their stories and bring even more people next year, and challenged RCA to find a way so that more people can attend the Kosi Challenge next year.
*Totals as of Sunday night.