Project Edge gets a Spine Tingling boost thanks to an inspiring family and community

L to R: Andrew, Jodie, Margaret and Lud of the Kerec Family

Photos: Ashley St George

If you’ve ever wondered about the power of individual effort and community support – “how much difference can one person really make?”- this is a story for you!

SpinalCure was very pleased earlier this year to be named as a beneficiary of the inaugural ‘Spine Tingling Ride’.

We had, of course, never heard of The Spine Tingling Ride.

However, when we heard that Andrew Kerec was planning to ride 5,500 km across Australia from Canberra to Humpty Doo for Project Edge (alongside another, fantastic Canberra-based not-for-profit Hartley Lifecare), we thought he was a little bit crazy, but were naturally intrigued.

After speaking with Andrew, we found out that he had a deeply personal connection to the cause.

His father, Lud Kerec had suffered a spinal cord injury in 2010 while training for the Port Macquarie Ironman Triathlon event and was diagnosed with C5/C6 quadriplegia as a result.

Over time, Lud, Andrew and the family have come to adapt to this new ‘normal’ and have gone on to experience some spectacular adventures together, in spite of the devastating injury Lud suffered.

From this difficult event however, Andrew wanted to create some real positivity – by helping to support others who may be experiencing the same kind of difficulties they faced in the days, weeks and months after the injury and ultimately to help provide hope to those with a spinal cord injury by supporting some truly spine tingling research – Project Edge!

What unfolded over the months leading up to, during and after the ride was an awe-inspiring example of what one person, and the community surrounding them can do to make a difference.

SpinalCure CEO Duncan Wallace and EO Marketing and Partnerships Kate Retallack had the pleasure of attending the post-ride fundraising event in Canberra in mid-June, and what we experienced there was touching, humbling and inspiring.

Over 300 people packed Albert Hall to celebrate Andrew’s achievement, to rally around the cause and to skyrocket the fundraising effort even higher.

Many of these people had pledged, donated and supported the ride in someway already and many had contributed their services, or donated prizes to the event itself.

Everything was donated on the evening (and during the ride) – the hall space, the catering, every detail taken care of. And an incredible team of volunteers from Hartley Lifecare ensured it went off without a hitch.

As a result, Andrew, his family and the incredible community that surrounds them were able to raise an extraordinary $122,500.

This amount will be shared between Hartley Lifecare to support them in their vital work and SpinalCure Australia to directly benefit the Project Edge neurostimulation collaboration at UTS.

Andrew says of his experience

“It was such a privilege to be able to ride across our incredible country, supported by people that I love dearly and constantly inspired by their strength, unconditional love and resilience. I have no doubt I could not have completed this challenge without the sacrifice and support of my wife, Jodie and my man-wife Dougie!

A heartfelt thank you goes out to every person and organisation who helped to ensure the resounding success of the ride and event, and of course a very special thank you to Andrew and his family for their incredible effort and for choosing Project Edge as a beneficiary.

In these cases we often wish there was more that we could do to express our gratitude, words don’t feel like enough.

However, we know that the very best we can do is to ensure that the work that we are doing honours the work of people like Andrew Kerec, driving forward constantly towards the day when a spinal cord injury is not a life sentence.

We are that much closer thanks to the Spine Tingling Ride.

Spine Tingling Ride post-event gallery

SpinalCure makes largest donation in organisation’s history!

L to R: Prof Bryce Vissel, Duncan Wallace, Prof William Purcell, Liz Hardy, Joanna Knott, Prof Attila Brungs. (Photos: Kevin Cheung, UTS)

SCA makes $1 million donation to UTS Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine for Project Edge

With thanks to our many supporter, donors, partners and friends, we are pleased to announce that we were recently able to make the single largest donation to SCI research in the organisation’s 23 year history.

Earlier this month, members of the Executive from SpinalCure Australia, University of Technology Sydney and Spinal Cord Injuries Australia gathered together at UTS for an exciting and much anticipated occasion – the signing of the fellowship agreements for the David Prast Fellowships for spinal cord injury research and the official presentation of a $1 million donation in support of the Project Edge neurostimulation collaboration.

The Fellowships, named for the late Mr David Prast, a revered director of both Spinal Cord Injuries Australia and SpinalCure Australia and long-time advocate for spinal cord injury research, will allow recruitment of top-level scientists for two exciting new research streams at the UTS Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine (CNRM), directed by Professor Bryce Vissel.

The Project Edge neurostimulation collaboration with Professor Edgerton of UCLA/Caltech is expected to commence late 2017/early 2018, and the Stem Cells for SCI research stream is planned to commence at the Centre in 2018.

SCA Chair and Co-founder Joanna Knott

This important achievement represents a significant amount of hard work on behalf of all organisations involved and reflects the strong and enduring partnership that has formed among them, as well as their shared commitment to advancing medical research that will improve the lives of people with spinal cord injury.

SCA and SCIA have each committed a total of $500,000 over five years for the two Fellowships. The amount is generously being matched by UTS for a total of $1,000,000.

In recognition and celebration of this wonderful progress, SpinalCure Australia also made its first major donation to the CNRM in support of Project Edge.

The $1 million donation represents the single largest donation in our organisation’s history and we are both extremely proud of this milestone and very grateful to our partners, donors and supporters for allowing us to achieve this.

SpinalCure CEO Duncan Wallace remarked of the occasion “Today we reached an extraordinary milestone. These initial funds and the two Fellowships are the start of what will be the southern hemisphere’s largest integrated effort to cure paralysis. It brings with it the realistic hope of some recovery to Australians living with spinal cord injury.”

In further exciting news, Professor Reggie Edgerton signed his own set of contractual documents, officially making him a Distinguished Professor at the UTS Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine. Prof Edgerton will continue to hold his Distinguished Professorships at UCLA, while simultaneously working with Professor Vissel and the CNRM team to establish and develop a leading neurostimulation program here in Australia.

We are very encouraged by the progress made to date and look forward to updating our valued partners, donors and supporters on the work as it unfolds.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation towards this vital research today – Your donation will directly help to progress this ground-breaking, life-changing project.

You’ll be helping people to regain independence and quality of life in ways not before possible.

Most importantly you’ll be helping to keep hope alive.

Your support is invaluable – Thank you!

SpinalCure and Network Nine Celebrate the 89th Annual Academy Awards together

On February 27 SpinalCure joined together with Network Nine and new lifestyle brand 9Honey to celebrate the 89th annual Academy Awards and raise funds for spinal cord injury research.

Sydney’s premier lunch event for the Oscars© was held at Luke Mangan’s glass brasserie at Sydney’s Hilton Hotel and saw a slew of Nine’s most famous faces out to mingle, enjoy the free-flowing Moet, and watch the live-stream of the main event over a fabulous, gourmet three-course meal.

The event was hosted by Nine personalities David Campbell and Georgie Gardner and saw the likes of Erin Molan, Miranda Tapsell, Shelley Craft, actor Ben Mingay of twice-nominated Hacksaw Ridge fame, the legendary Sam Neil and even singer Seal walk the red carpet to attend.

Special guest Kerri-Anne Kennerley also joined the festivities, lending her support to a cause that has sadly become near and dear to herself and her husband John in the last year.

Importantly, the event also brought together some of SpinalCure’s most ardent and long-standing supporters and cherished community members to not only enjoy the glitter and glam and celebrate the awards, but to also celebrate the significant progress in recent years and exciting times ahead with the introduction of new research collaboration Project Edge.

This fantastic event is made possible by the generous support of many individuals and organisations and we must send out a big thank you to our partners at Network Nine for their incredible work in orchestrating such a dazzling affair, as well as all of those who attended, bought raffle tickets and made donations on the day.

Many thanks to also go to Luke Mangan and the team at glass brasserie who never miss a detail and always provide the most outstanding service, cuisine and beverage accompaniments (even when we oversell the venue by 30+ tickets!)

Our sincere gratitude also to the many donors and sponsors of the event who provide the opportunity for SpinalCure to do some extra fundraising on the day through our raffle prize draw, and to send our guests home with a beautiful thank you in the form of goody bags stuffed with great products and vouchers.

In particular we would like to thank our friends at Popink for their very generous contributions and for putting the call out to their networks on our behalf. Thank you in turn to Hedgren Australia for donating 200+ fabulous Hedgren shoulder bags and a fantastic luggage set, also to Samsonite, Brother, VGM Imports, Maui Jim Sunglasses, United Book Distributors, The Cache Group of Companies, Synnex Australia, and Choice Magazines for answering that call and supporting us in our endeavor to raise much needed funds for spinal cord injury research.

Thank you also to Cam and Sam Bloom, Sydney Seaplanes, Gai Waterhouse Racing, Jono Hennessy Group (via Melanie Kell) for their generous donations.

And to Blackmore’s for their outstanding contribution, as well as to Glamazon, Healthspace, Dendy Cinemas, Virgin Group, Nine Live, Warner Bros, Manrags, OPI, Star and PR Events, Xtend Barre, Paul Mitchell, Sweaty Betty PR, Secret Bottle, Maritime Museum and San Pellegrino for rounding out the amazing goody bags.

Thank you finally to the key sponsors – Vic’s Premium Quality Meat, James Boag’s Premium Lager, Moet & Chandon Champagne, The Luke Mangan Group, Little Creatures Pale Ale, Joto – The fresh fish people, Hilton – Sydney, Vittoria Coffee, and L.J. Parthenos & Son.

The day was a wonderful success with much fun, laughter and champers enjoyed by all. We can’t wait to do it all again next year to keep raising the profile, funds and awareness needed to get us to the cure!

See full event gallery

Australian Turf Club and SpinalCure

SpinalCure selected as 2017 Australian Turf Club Charity Partner of the Year


We are very pleased to announce that SpinalCure Australia has been chosen as this year’s Australian Turf Club Charity Partner of the Year.

Founded from the merger of the Australian Jockey’s Club and Sydney Turf Club in 2011, the Australian Turf Club (ATC) owns and operates premium Thoroughbred Racing, events and hospitality venues across Sydney.

“The Australian Turf Club prides itself on being one of the world’s most desirable destinations for thoroughbred racing, events and hospitality.”

The club places significant and genuine emphasis on community engagement, with a key area of focus on partnering with charities to provide opportunities for fundraising.

Given the unfortunate but very real connection between spinal cord injury and horse-racing and the high-level of support SpinalCure receives from some of the industry’s most notable riders and representatives, the synergistic partnership is fantastic step in the right direction for helping those injured while participating in one of our nation’s most cherished sporting traditions.

SpinalCure CEO Duncan Wallace commented “We are honoured and delighted to have been chosen as the ATC charity partner for this year. The awareness and support this will help generate will take us closer to the day when a spinal cord injury is no longer a life sentence. 

 It can be a long way from the saddle to the ground and sadly spinal cord injuries do occur. However, promising interventions that help restore feeling and function, such as the neurostimulation treatment that we are introducing to Australia via Project Edge, are under development and with the support of the ATC we will see them become available even sooner.

To help support us in our newly founded partnership, be sure to purchase your Longines Golden Slipper pins at the Rosehill Gardens racing events Mar 11 and 18 and stay tuned for more news and events to come throughout the year.

We are also looking for volunteers Mar 11 and 18 to help sell pins at Rosehill Gardens. 100% of proceeds from the sale of each $5 pin go to SpinalCure to support research for a cure.

Please contact Kathryn Borkovic by emailing [email protected] if you would like to help out.

Learn more about ATC   Donate to SpinalCure

The Spine Tingling Ride

Spine Tingling RideFrom Canberra to Humpty Doo by bike – a Spine Tingling Ride to help others

In March of this year, Andrew Kerec will take on the punishing, self-titled and self-designed ‘Spine Tingling Ride’ – a 5,450 km solo journey across Australia by mountain bike to raise funds and awareness for Project Edge and other life-changing not-for-profits and initiatives including Hartley Life Care and Livable Housing Australia.

The ride connects two places near and dear to the hearts of the Kerec family.