It was the escalation of the MS symptoms of Tony Lear’s sister, Jane, that led him to search for MS Research Australia.
“Jane was diagnosed at about 40 years of age”, explained Tony. “It became critical that we funded the preeminent organisation seeking to find a cure for MS”. Tony and Merle greatly value the singular focus on research, funding the best quality research projects in Australia and now globally as well as the transparency and reporting of MS Research Australia. They are avid readers of the MS WIRE, keeping in touch with the latest research news and both contribute greatly to MS Research Australia’s fundraising events or gala balls.
As donors to a number of charities, timely reporting is important to them. This includes the MS Research Australia ‘impact report’ which details exactly how the funds are spent, meetings with the CEO or catching up with MS researchers in person to discuss their work. Tony adds that “it’s good to see the direct link between the donation and the research outcome and how appreciative the researchers are to receive ongoing support”
Both Tony and Merle mentioned our ability to work with like-minded charities such as JDRF Australia on combined projects and MS organisations worldwide, such as the International Progressive MS Alliance, as a key to their giving decision.
Jane has been living with relapsing remitting MS for five years but her first symptom of optic neuritis was experienced 11 years earlier. Jane said “The love and support I receive from my husband, Tony, Merle and other family members is invaluable. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Tony very quietly donates and supports MS Research Australia in the hope to finding a cure one day and I hope in time for me to benefit from it. No words can express how grateful I am for my brother for his selfless act of donating.”
The CEO of MS Research Australia, Dr Matthew Miles, says that “it’s donors like Tony and Merle that ensure that we can continue to fund MS research in this country”. Adding that “they are both so interested, enthusiastic and supportive of what we do that it becomes a virtuous cycle relationship – where we gain as much inspiration from them as they do from us”. Not only are they both important key supporters themselves, they actively encourage others to give.
Despite the complexities and ambiguities of MS, there are two things in MS that are always going to be true. One is that research is the only hope for a cure, and the other is that the cure won’t happen if we continue to lose our MS researchers out of the field or altogether because of a chronic lack of funding.
Research and fundraising must go hand in glove. Supporters such as Tony and Merle are helping to keep this relationship alive.