About Pirate Day
Pirate Day is an annual national day of dressing up to raise awareness and much-needed funds for childhood brain cancer.
Where the funds go
Since 2015, with thanks to school groups, early learning centres and the businesses who participate, more than $300,000 has been raised to find better treatments and ultimately a cure for the disease through the Pirate Ship Foundation and The Kids’ Cancer Project. Both charities share a fundamental belief that scientific discoveries will improve outcomes for children affected by cancer.
The Pirate Ship Foundation is a bold and passionate community that funds vital research into childhood brain cancer through a range of initiatives, adventures, events and partnerships. Funds are invested directly into childhood brain cancer research programs, including to the Brain Tumour Research Program at Telethon Kids Institute in Perth. Further information can be found at pirateshipfoundation.com.au.
The Kids’ Cancer Project is an independent national charity supporting bold scientific research that has the greatest chance of clinical success. Since 1993, thanks to strong community support, the charity has contributed tens of millions of dollars to scientific research projects to help children with many types of cancer. Learn more about all the research projects funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project.
Funds raised through 2020 Pirate Day will be directed specifically to a study lead 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 NanoMedicine, UNSW. Get to know more about Joshua’s research.
About childhood brain cancer
Stats for 2020:
- Brain tumours are the most common form of solid tumours among children.
- Brain cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease.
- As with other tumours in kids and adults, surgery is the primary treatment, usually followed by radiation treatment and/or chemotherapy.
- Because a child’s brain is still developing, these treatments can result in more substantial and permanent side effects than they would for an adult.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (published 2012 – 2016), 3303.0 Causes of Death, Australia (2011 – 2015), ‘Table 1.3: Underlying cause of death, Selected causes by age at death, numbers and rates, Australia, Ages 1 – 14 (2011 – 2015).
The Pirate Day story
Our tale began back in 2014 when Pirate Day founder Nathan Colgan’s son Conor was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Nathan was told by Conor’s doctors that the only way to find a cure for Conor and kids like him was through research, and that costs lots of money.
Nathan discovered that the National Health and Medical Research Council, which distributes the Australian Government’s annual medical research budget only allocates around $5 million to paediatric cancer (which is less than 1% of its total).
Nathan realised that the only way he could change this was to either raise money through charity work or start a campaign to get the Government’s attention so they would increase medical research funding.
In November 2014, Conor’s primary school held the first ever Pirate Day. The day was such an overwhelming success with all the teachers enjoying the chance to be a pirate as well, that he decided he would write to all of the primary schools in Australia and ask them to hold their own Pirate Day. Read more about Conor