KCNQ2 Cure Down Under “New Horizons” Fundraiser Breaks Record

By Sara James on October 26, 2019

kcnq2 down under


The fourth KCNQ2 Cure New Horizons in Science Dinner smashed fundraising records for KCNQ2 Cure Down Under.  The dinner in Melbourne, Australia raised $160,000 for medical research to find a cure for KCNQ2 — double the previous amount.  The dinner showcases star scientists from around the world and raises awareness about KCNQ2 genetic epilepsy.

KCNQ2 Cure Vice President and New Horizons organizer Sara James says it was a KCNQ2 mom who touched every heart in the room.  Dr. Jennie Nowers, a Brisbane GP, had flown to Melbourne with her baby Lucas to appear at the dinner. But Jennie had just arrived when she learned Lucas had had a seizure and been rushed by ambulance to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Knowing Lucas was in safe hands, Jennie insisted on speaking briefly before she departed. “It was more important than ever,” she said later. “People need to understand what KCNQ2 does to families.  They need to know genetic epilepsy affects every aspect of our lives.”

Lucas has made a full recovery. He’s back to his smiling, cheerful self. And Jennie is glad she spoke. She told the crowd, “I’m a doctor.  I fix things.  I treat you, and your kids.   But I can’t fix this, not alone.” Her powerful remarks set off a bidding war.

Here’s how it was covered in The Australian, Australia’s national newspaper.

MARGIN CALL — The Australian
October 26, 2019

Warthog heaven

What’s a warthog ever done for medical research? As of this week, quite a bit actually.
A statue of a warthog made out of used coffee pods — the work of Namibian Nespresso artisans — started a bidding war at this week’s fourth annual KCNQ2 Cure dinner in Melbourne, which raises awareness and money for genetic epilepsy research.

Behind the fuss was chairman of the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation Peter Yates. The man really wanted the warthog.

David Gazard is off to Namibia.

The organizer of the dinner, NBC America correspondent and genetic epilepsy advocate Sara James — the better half of Melbourne’s friendliest corporate adviser, Andrew Butcher — promised to get him one. For $2000.

A new warthog is currently winging its way from Namibia. Seems pigs can fly. For a price.
Yates’ interest started a flurry of unplanned bidding on Nespresso table centerpiece statues.

Who wants a warthog?

Within minutes, amid a frenzy of bidding, Kay and Burton’s bemused auctioneer Gowan Stubbings had raised another $30,000, taking the evening’s haul to $160,000.

The James and Butcher-co-ordinated KCNQ2 dinner — held each year at the Melbourne headquarters of Luke Sayers’ PwC — has fast become a feature on the city’s charity calendar.

It features international scientists — this year St Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Ewelina Mamcarz and wildlife filmmaker Ginger Mauney — while putting the spotlight on the many stars of medical research in Melbourne, including world-leading epilepsy researcher Professor Ingrid Scheffer and Florey Institute director Professor Steve Petrou.

Among those digging deep at the dinner were ANZ boss Shayne Elliott and wife Najla, Goldman Sachs Australia investment banker Christian Johnston and his wife, Mecca cosmetics CFO Jinah Johnston, former Australian Democrats senator Natasha Stott-Despoja and husband Ian Smith (Butcher’s work wife), Fielding Hill Capital chief Jack Dahan and News Corp Australia guru Peter Blunden.

While research was the big winner, a close runner-up was the PM’s best mate, David Gazard.

After putting his hand up at the wrong time, he and his politically connected wife Georgie Gazard found themselves the owners of a very expensive trip to Namibia to study the last remaining population of black rhinos.

Just as well Gazard’s advisory business is going OK after May’s miracle.

Sara James

Sara is an Emmy award-winning correspondent who covers Australasia for the US Today Show. Before moving to Australia in 2008, Sara reported for Dateline NBC on the Taliban of Afghanistan, modern slavery in Sudan, the Bosnian War Crimes Tribunal, and 9/11 in her hometown of New York. Sara also served as substitute anchor on the Today Show news desk. An American in Oz is her third book. Sara’s fortnightly featured commentary by the same name debuts on ABC News Breakfast in January. She and her Australian husband Andrew Butcher live in the Macedon Ranges near Melbourne with their two daughters.


Sign up for our KCNQ2 Connections blog for updates on research, events, and happenings in the KCNQ2 community.



Follow Us On