CMRI Christmas Fair
- When: Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26, from 10am both days
- Where: Murrumbidgee Turf Club
- Entry: $5
THERE is no better time to be able to do two things at once than in the lead up to the busy Christmas period.
Wagga residents are in the enviable position of being able to do just that at the annual CMRI Christmas Fair.
Not only can you get much of your Christmas shopping done early at one convenient location, but at the same time you can help raise money for a great cause - the Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI).
CMRI studies and conducts research into a range of childhood diseases. It was founded in 1958 by paediatricians Sir Lorimer Dods and Dr John Fulton, who decided that prevention was better than cure and that research held the key.
CMRI now boasts some of the world's best scientists and technology, operating out of a multi-storey building next to Westmead Children's Hospital.
It is able to continue its work thanks to community and philanthropic support, such as Jeans 4 Genes Day and fundraising committees throughout NSW, including Wagga, as well as some government grants and funding.
Long-term member Fiona Hamilton said the Christmas fair is the Wagga fundraising committee's major event.
"It is a really lovely day out, a great family day," Mrs Hamilton said.
"We call the Friday 'pram day'. People come for morning tea or lunch and pick up some presents for Christmas.
"We are very particular about the mix of stalls and keep them to a high standard."
The committee raises between $50,000 and $60,000 each year from the fair for CMRI, with some other smaller fundraising events also contributing on top of that.
"We do have a goal, but basically every dollar raised is a dollar that's a donation," Mrs Hamilton said.
"Each committee does its own thing for fundraising. That is the backbone of (CMRI). We're the grassroots."
CMRI formed the first research unit for newborn babies, dramatically improving survival rates for premature babies; developed the first heart and lung machines used on children; began research into heart disease and blood disorders; and has conducted studies into childhood diseases, cystic fibrosis, microsurgery and organ donation, gene therapy, epilepsy, and treatments for kidney disease.
It is behind the development of many of the childhood immunisation programs and has become a cancer research "factory".
The Wagga committee has sent more than $1.6 million to CMRI over the past 36 years and three years ago the scientists at CMRI named one of its four research laboratories "The Wagga Lab" as thanks.
Mrs Hamilton said it was easy to see the benefits of supporting CMRI.
"Yes, we are 500km away, but we make a huge difference to the facility each year," she said.
"It is important people realise where the money goes.
"In the last 10 years the scientists at CMRI have learned more than they have learned before. It is a cumulative effort, they know more every year than they have in the last 10. They are able to research faster, which means they can get results faster so they are moving closer to finding solutions."
Many of those involved in the Wagga committee are "second generation".
"A lot of the younger generation now involved have come through following family," Mrs Hamilton said.
"The next generation is on it's way through, which keeps the momentum going.
"People don't realise the joy and benefit of being involved. It's just time, it's not a financial commitment."