About Us | Children's Brain Cancer Research | Pirate Day

About Us

About Pirate Day

Pirate Day is an annual national day of dressing up to raise awareness and much-needed funds for childhood brain cancer.

The Pirate Ship Foundation and The Kids’ Cancer Project uses money raised from Pirate Day to fund vital cancer research. As a result, scientific studies are able to look into better treatments and ultimately a cure for the disease.

Where the funds go

Pirate Day has raised more than $300,000 since 2015, thanks to schools, Early Learning Centres and businesses participating. Both The Pirate Ship Foundation and The Kids’ Cancer Project 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. This is achieved through a range of initiatives, adventures, events and partnerships. Funds are invested directly into childhood brain cancer research programs, for instance 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, the charity has contributed tens of millions of dollars to scientific research projects helping children with many types of cancer. Learn more about all the research projects funded by The Kids’ Cancer Project.

Funds raised through Pirate Day in 2020 were directed specifically to a study lead by Associate Professor Joshua McCarroll. Professor McCarroll is the 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.
  • More children in Australia die of brain cancer than any other disease[1].
  • As with other tumours in kids and adults, surgery is the primary treatment. After that, surgery is 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.

[1] 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. Doctors told Nathan that research was the only way to find a cure for Conor and kids like him. Research which costs lots of money.

Nathan looked into the National Health and Medical Research Council, which distributes the Australian Government’s annual medical research budget. He discovered they only allocate around $5 million to paediatric cancer (which is less than 1% of its total).

Nathan realised the only way he could change this was to either raise money through charity work, or get the Government to increase medical research funding.

Conor’s primary school held the first ever Pirate Day in November 2014. The day was an overwhelming success and even the teachers enjoyed the chance to be a pirate. Conor decided he would write to all Australian primary schools to ask them to hold their own Pirate Day. Read more about Conor

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